Hope Is A Train Wreck That Has Happened

No, that’s not the lyrics to a new Toby Keith song. That I’m aware of, anyway.

A House committee heard today that the Hope Scholarship fund will be short about a quarter of a billion dollars this year, and over three hundred million for the 2012 fiscal year. Thus summed up House Higher Education Committee Chair Len Walker (R-Loganville), “This is not a train wreck about to happen. The train wreck has happened.”

The AJC sums up a variety of reasons that Hope found itself in this trouble, including ever expanding eligibility and students showing up to college unprepared and thus unable to meet Hope’s standards (an amazing 54%).

The fact not directly mentioned in the AJC article, however, is the ever increasing budgets of Georgia’s public colleges. Most cuts passed along by the legislature proportional to other budget areas have been compensated for by ever increasing tuition rates. An attempt to rein in University system spending last year by the legislature met with a revolt of angry 4-H families.

My guess is, today’s committee meeting, little noticed within the home stretch of primary runoffs, will have large echos in both November and next January. This will not be just a general election issue, but potentially the start of a major battle over spending and tuition within the University System of Georgia.


  1. View from Brookhaven says:

    The General Assembly will pass a new SuperTexter law, which they estimate will bring in $17 Gazillion dollars and solve all of our problems.

  2. Lady Thinker says:

    The college rosters began swelling when the economy tanked in hopes that a college education would help students get jobs. It isn’t working out that way. I heard that Hope, which I didn’t use, is cutting the book tuition to students. Without books, there is no way a student can be successful.

    I realize the state has to cut budgets and trim the fat but the people losing jobs are applying for and receiving financial aid. It’s like the statement I heard on John King, U.S.A., it’s like taking water from one side of the lake and putting it back in on the other side and calling the situation under control when in reality, nothing changes.

    • Harry says:

      The books are way too expensive. Why not have the students buy a Kindle ($139) and download their textbooks at a fraction of the cost?

      • macho says:

        I think the Kindle would bring the price down, but my guess is the books would still be fairly expensive. I think, the more specialized the subject, the more expensive the book. If you’re an author, willing to dedicate a lot of your life to writing a textbook, you’re going to expect a certain minimum amount of money for your work. It’s not like a starving artist writing a piece of fiction. So if you’re amortizing the amount over a few students, then the price is going to have to be fairly high.

        • one n done says:

          The problem with the whole textbook situation is that publishers will change/add a chapter or two and make the university’s by all brand new books every two years when the 4 year old history book would suffice just fine. The publishers are just trying to continue to make millions by just changing a few lines here and there. This leads to students being forced to buy a brand new book when they should have been able to buy a used book or borrow/buy from a friend who has taken the course. I am currently a student and run into this problem every semester. Then, when I go to sell my books back to the bookstore at the end of the semester, they won’t accept it because they are using the “new” version next semester. It’s a scam, but hey, thats business

      • Lady Thinker says:

        I wonder if all the college textbooks are on Kindle. When I got my master’s degree, I spent $400-$600 per semester and nearly half of my books were used! College textbooks are very expensive.

      • AubieTurtle says:

        We’re not there yet but in five or ten years, it is likely that ebooks will be standard on college campuses. They need to get a bit cheaper, the screens larger and textbook content created for them. Color would help too though textbooks have had color for less time than they didn’t.

        The traditional textbook companies will probably follow the dead end path that the record companies and newspapers have tried… make the transition as painful as possible as long as possible in hopes they can prevent things from changing.

        In the end I suspect you’re going to find that textbooks end up written by academic units of universities and the cost of them incorporated into tuition. Once the books are written, distribution costs will be trival. The only real ongoing cost will be keeping the textbooks revised. Smaller schools that can’t produce their own textbooks will likely license them from larger schools or form consortiums to write the books.

        I just don’t see any way for the traditional textbook publishers to keep in the game, at least not in the way they are now. Most revisions to textbooks now seem to be minor and designed mainly to destroy the resale market so the publisher can continue their preferred business model.

        One downside of switching to ebooks… hauling all of those thick engineering and science texts around campus all day kept me in really good shape. A Kindle weights next to nothing!

  3. macho says:

    To me it’s simple, if you’ve got 54% of the kids not meeting the Hope standards, then they need to raise the initial standards for the scholarship. Seems to be a real waste of money with that kind of retention level.

    I don’t know if our politicians will have the political courage to resist the media demagoguing.

    • AubieTurtle says:

      I wonder though if the students who qualify for Hope but aren’t ready for college are evenly distributed across the state. My guess is that some school systems are more prone to grade inflation than others. I’m not sure how this can be handled but it does seem unfair that a student in a good district that barely missed the cut off doesn’t get Hope while a student from a low standards district can get Hope easily though not as well prepared as the other student. Guess that’ll be a problem no matter how the standards are set as long as determination of meeting those standards are in hands of each individual district.

      • Icarus says:

        While that’s one stat worth looking at, I’m thinking there’s another stat more relevent: Which colleges have the highest rate of those losing the scholarship?

        And in a perverted way, the school with the higher failure rate may be doing the better job, as they expect more. The schools that don’t have many kids losing HOPE are probably the ones moving through college just like high schools do, eventually giving them a college degree via social promotion.

        • polisavvy says:

          I’ve always wondered if it would be feasible to make the students prove themselves “college ready” for at least the first semester. In other words, go to college, make the grade, and then be eligible for HOPE. If it means that you have to finance a semester of college, then so be it. If you have a monetary investment in your college future, you would probably be more driven and focused to make the grades to get HOPE. My son is sitting there with about $50,000 in college loans — he made the grades and finished in three and a half years because he knew he would be paying for his education for a long time.

          Another thing would be to encourage the kids that barely are HOPE eligible (at the bottom of the acceptance qualifications) to attend a small community college rather than attending the larger universities where it’s easier to get “lost.” Just my opinion.

          • Ramblinwreck says:

            I think this would be a great idea. I can tell you from first hand experience with one of my own family that the Hope Scholarship packs the schools with kids who can’t do college work, even at UGA. 🙂

            With an endless supply of students funded with OPM/lottery money where is the incentive to cut back or economize?

            Re grade inflation, the AVERAGE grade of graduating seniors in many, if not most, governement schools today is a B. So much for that bell shaped distribution.

        • ACCmoderate says:

          Icarus… the school with the highest number of students losing the scholarship is probably UGA. Their standards are higher and they just won a very interesting award for their drinking capabilities.

      • macho says:

        It’s a great point. I know some folks find them controversial, but standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are supposed to be the answer to weeding out the grade inflation schools.

  4. For years now, we have been hearing about the impending problems with the ‘Hope’ scholarship. Once again I am encouraged that our leadership has had the vision and foresight along with the courage to avert a problem predicted many moons ago!

    If you apply the same characteristics of leadership to planning for the future need for water resources, transportation, and trauma care….then I am confident the quality of life in our great state will continue to rise! Let me pause now to thank the good lord for the private sector!

  5. Atticus Grinch says:

    I think it is better to send “X” number of students to college for free (all tuition, all fees, all books) than it is to send twice that many to college with less benefits (for instance, I favor sending 10,000 students to college with all basic expenses paid as opposed to sending 20,000 students with 70 % tuition paid and no fees and no books). Make it merit based, raise the standards to 3.5 high school average or top 10% on SAT, require a 3.25 GPA in college to keep it once you get enrolled. “Means test” it — no one with household income of over $ 200.000 gets it. Do Something to decrease the number of people receiving HOPE so that the benefits can be increased (or at least maintained) so it is a truly meaningful scholarship … if you earn it.

    • macho says:

      To some extent I think you’re right, but I think it’s always healthy to contribute something to your college. While this is anecdotal, when I knew some guys who were on a full-ride scholarship (tuition, textbooks, room and board). Because they had no expenses, they had more extra spending money than most on campus. They ended up doing a lot of hard drugs.

  6. AlanR says:

    Increasing scholarships and loan amounts usually results in an increase in tuition and fees. Students never get ahead.

    Several years ago someone plotted increase in the yearly amount a student could borrow under Pell against the yearly increase in average tuition at state schools — or something close to this — and the rate of growth in the tuition/cost line always exceeded the rate of growth in the the amount of money available.

    Fortunately, I couldn’t afford a big deal school and decided to limit my debt as much as possible. Community college and commuting to big city U was one of the best decisions I ever made, and not because of the money.

    • macho says:

      I heard an interesting theory from an economist: the reason college has become so expensive is not due to lack of money, it’s because there is too much money available for college.

      • Baker says:

        “it’s because there is too much money available for college.”

        Bingo. I briefly mentioned this in a Facebook post earlier today when I came across a separate story about colleges. More people can afford college so there is no incentive for them to keep prices down, government subsidized tuition raises.

        Also, if 54% of the kids are unprepared, do they not get kicked off HOPE making room for other kids?

        • For those who have worked at the universities, they know that financial aid, and such, has become the new welfare….

          the exponential rise in college text books is completely without merit and reflects how these companies have taken total control of the market…with no options for students, they can then drive the prices up….

          there are so many inefficiencies built into the education delivery system…the astronomical rise in costs has little to do with the actual costs. It is directly connected to the disconnect between revenue and expectations. Eventually, all of this will make the alternatives more acceptable and attractive….turn the market loose!

      • uga2000 says:

        Do you by any chance have a link to an article or a study by that economist? I’m having a policy discussion with someone intimately and influentially involved in higher education in Georgia… I cited your comment and when I mentioned it, he was extremely interested and requested more info and a source.

        Thanks very much

  7. Three Jack says:

    the failure of a government backed, gambling funded program proves yet again why nobody should trust the government. my god, they are taking in more money every single day, paying out astronomical bonuses to the bureaucrats running the government gambling program and yet they can’t even fulfill the basic funding requirement!!!

    here’s an idea…how about we legalize gambling so the private sector can get involved and dedicate a similar percentage of profits to education….kind of a ‘charter casino’ concept. my bet is that not only will the private gambling companies make a huge profit, but HOPE is fully funded for years to come.

    get government bureaucrats out of education if you truly seek superior education.

    • macho says:

      My guess is if you placed an income cap on the Hope, the 54% failure rate would jump even higher. I don’t think the problem is lack of funding, I think the problem is the scholarship is paying for kids to go to college who are not prepared for or should not be going to college.

      Let’s just be politically incorrect, but honest, a “B” average from Milton High School is not the same thing as from Forest Park High School.

      • Baker says:

        already put this above, but isnt it the 54%’s fault and they should lose HOPE? Does this not free up money? My HOPE knowledge is limited.

        • Icarus says:

          They get HOPE for a full year, before they then lose it, as I understand the program (I went to UGA pre-HOPE).

          Thus, more than half the kids are starting college (for free) that can’t maintain the grades needed to keep HOPE.

          So, to save this money being presumably wasted on kids that aren’t prepared or willing to succeed, the bar to receive HOPE as a freshman may need to be raised, or become a competitive process rather than requiring a “B” average which may vary in value from system to system.

      • ACCmoderate says:

        Macho, why are you so willing to assume that poor kids are more likely to lose HOPE than rich kids? If anything, the students from poorer families aren’t taking the opportunity to go to college for granted.

        You’re right that a B average from Milton High isn’t the same as a B from Forrest Park. If anything, the B is easier to achieve at Milton because there are better teachers and better resources. You’ve got to overcome a whole heck of a lot more to get a be at Forrest Park than you do at Milton.

        Most of the students that I went to school with that lost the HOPE scholarship came from upper middle-class families and really nice high schools. If you’re the first in your family to attend college, you’re not going to screw around.

        • macho says:

          It has nothing to do with rich versus poor per se. It’s just being realistic – if you were a lucky sperm and your parents could afford to live in Milton school versus Forest Park, more than likely you’ll have a better education. I know there are exceptions of some great students who beat the odds.

      • griftdrift says:

        Or Chamblee High, or Grady, etc.

        Trying to put the world into neat little boxes doesn’t work, is not very helpful and has nothing to do with any notion of “political correctness”.

  8. Icarus says:

    I throw this idea out there, which I belive was once discussed when the idea of “grade inflation” and exceeding the amount of funds available was first realized and seriously discussed:

    If there’s enough money to educate 17% of GA’s college bound students (a number I pulled out of nowhere), then why not let the top 20% of students from all schools be eligible for Hope. That way, all communities are represented “equally”, and you don’t have to worry if a “B” at one school equals a “B” at another.

    The attrition rate and non-selection of GA schools by some students would reduce the number from 20% offered HOPE vs. the 17% that can be funded based on existing revenue. The percent of students offered can be adjusted every few years based on lottery or other funding sources.

    But even with all that, I still think there has to be some measure of control over expenses from the University System.

  9. AubieTurtle says:

    One thing that impressed me in California was the way they setup their two year schools to work with the four year schools. All of the four year schools were part of one of two systems: The California State University system and the University of California system. All two year schools printed in their course catalog next to each class notations “CSU” and “UC” if that class would transfer into the respective university system. As a result, a large percentage of students spent their first year or two at a two year school. Only those who were in a few select professional programs had to go all four years at the senior institution. If students do need remedial work, community college is a better place for it to happen.

    It cost less for the state, the students got to attend a school close to home with lower tuition*, there was no mystery as to if a class would transfer or not. The system was pretty seamless and very user friendly.

    * Actually charging tuition is against the state constitution but there are fees that have to be paid. For the two year schools this is a laughable amount of money. When I was out there, I think the fees had just gone up to $10 per semester hour. The fees at UC and CSU schools were a good bit higher though still much lower than most other states. Regardless of if it is a good idea to subsidize so much of the cost, it does seem like a good idea for the first year or two to be at the cheaper to operate junior schools.

    • Excellent point…I went to school in California for a bit. The two year schools/junior college concept is one of the most developed in the country. I have long thought that if Georgia is to really make gains regarding economic development, reducing persistent poverty, educational advancement, etc…that much more would need to be invested in improving the two-year schools!

      Great Point!

  10. there was no mystery as to if a class would transfer or not.

    The summer before starting law school, I took a night class in physics at Georgia Perimeter College (2-year school) so that if I chose to practice patent law I would have all the science credits that the government requires.

    More than half the students in my class were in the process of applying for transfer to 4-year universities at the end of their 2-year programs. I remember feeling so bad for those people and the nightmares they were going through. One class would be accepted by Kennesaw State for transfer credit, while the same class would be rejected by West Georgia. Another class would be the exact opposite.

    Almost every transfer student had to retake some classes that they had passed handily. There was no fixed criteria, and no real rhyme or reason to any of it. Those students were really getting screwed over, seeing as how “easy transfer” is a primary selling point for drawing students to 2-year colleges in the first place. I agree with AubieTurtle that having some kind of sane and consistent coordination at the state level would go a long way toward making our 2-year college system a more attractive option for students.

  11. ACCmoderate says:

    Having just walked under the Arch for the first time a few weeks ago, I’ve witnessed first-hand the process of students losing the HOPE Scholarship. It’s not surprising that 54% of students lose the scholarship in their first year when the state’s flagship school was recently named the nation’s #1 party school.

    But why are 54% of students losing the HOPE Scholarship? Simple… they aren’t prepared academically or emotionally.

    College is a different animal. You won’t have teachers holding your hand when you don’t understand something. You won’t have your parents making sure you do your homework. Succeeding at the college level requires a responsibility that many students don’t have and a work ethic that many students aren’t willing to apply.

    We shouldn’t just be blaming the students, we should be blaming parents and teachers as well.

    Now, let’s look at the reasons for HOPE being in the state it is in. Then we can gander at the solutions.

    1. We have an ever expanding number of eligible students that are vying for a supply of money that isn’t getting any bigger.

    2. HOPE is paying the tuition of a number of students that would rather play around at the Nation’s top “Party School” than actually study.

    3. Due to budget constraints and system-wide cuts, we’re seeing an uptick on in-state tuition throughout the University System of Georgia, which creates a situation in which rising numbers of students need a scholarship capable of paying a rising cost of tuition.

    4. Lottery revenues have pretty much plateaued and aren’t sufficient to maintain the HOPE Scholarship going forward. The funding structure for HOPE didn’t foresee any future changes to its cash-flow.

    So, how do we fix it?

    APPROACH 1: The need-based approach
    Install the income cap that was originally intended before wealthy political donors had it removed.

    HOPE was meant to give students the opportunity to earn an education they otherwise would be unable to afford. Placing an income cap on HOPE eligibility would re-direct the money to the students who most need a leg up and would cut the number of eligible students to a level maintainable with current and projected lotto revenues.

    It’s not a popular decision, and it’ll certainly draw a lot of criticism from the parents that exist above the income cap. However, if you can afford to send your kid to Lovett or Westminster for four years, you can afford to send him/her to UGA. Instead of buying Jimmy or Sally that new Range Rover they won’t stop pestering you about, pony up for a used car and use the savings to help pay tuition.

    It can be strongly argued from an economic stand-point, that the HOPE Scholarship is being paid for on the backs of the lower middle class and the working poor (the ones who play the lottery with more regularity). It only seems right that the scholarship they’re helping fund (albeit indirectly) should go to help their children get an education and make something of themselves.

    APPROACH 2: The merit-based approach
    I’ve seen some mention of grade-inflation so far in these comments. If anything, grade inflation is likely to be more prevalent at schools in affluent areas where pressure to score better is higher and students seem to care more about the marks showing up on their report card.

    I don’t think grade inflation is this widespread evil that is crashing the HOPE system. I’m sure that grade inflation exists in some cases, but not enough to be a leading cause for HOPE’s perilous perch.

    The problem that IS causing such a dire situation for the program is a lack of rigor. I’m only 4 years removed from high school and I can vouch that a B average throughout one’s time there isn’t some Herculean feat.

    Moving to a plus-minus scale would shift the requirement for a B from 80 to an 83, thus upping the required scores for maintaining a B average. I’ve always been a fan of moving the cutoff to a B+ (87) average throughout high school, but lets not make things too difficult.

    A higher bar will cause more kids to strive for better scores in an attempt to earn that free money. I think that the requirement of a B average helped raise the performance of high school students throughout the state… I’m pretty pumped about the fact that we have more and more kids graduating with at least a B average… imagine what happens when we place that bar higher.

    A higher cut-off for HOPE eligibility not only incentivizes better scores, but it cuts the number of eligible students, but it awards the scholarship to talented students that are more likely to keep it throughout their time in college.

    I think that both approaches have their merits. Feel free to debate either one. I feel that the following are some changes that need to be made regardless which path you choose to take (the merit-based approach or the need-based approach).

    1. Get rid of subsidies for attending private in-state universities. Students enroll at Emory/Mercer/Berry knowing that those schools carry higher price-tags. The state shouldn’t be subsidizing their education… let those universities dole out their own scholarships instead.

    2. Automatic loss of HOPE Scholarship for any student arrested on an alcohol-related charge. Helps cut down on the wild-partying image and ensures that the scholarship isn’t being provided to idiots.

    3. Lower overheard costs at the GSFC and Georgia Lottery, ensuring that more of the money goes to paying scholarships and not administrators salaries.

    • polisavvy says:

      You raised some great points which could/would work. I agree with you about the wealthy partaking in HOPE. It should be used more for the lower and middle income families. Also, you have to consider how many children are trying to attend college, at the same time, from the same family. What may appear to be a family that makes a little above the curve and therefore not in need of financial aid, could actually need it to get multiple children through college (say, if someone had “stair-step” children). There are a lot of things that could be done to preserve HOPE and, at this point, extreme measures should be taken to keep it going.

      • ACCmoderate says:

        Agreed. Having researched it in undergrad, the income cap is the best solution to the problem.

        I know that FAFSA and some federal grants and scholarships take the number of college-aged or near college-aged siblings into account.

        HOPE has been the elephant in the room for a long time. I’m curious to hear the proposals that the gubernatorial candidates have to resolve it.

        • polisavvy says:

          Don’t the people who “run” the lottery make some pretty ridiculous salaries? Also, I don’t recall the candidates saying a whole lot about HOPE, did you?

          • ACCmoderate says:

            No one has said anything about HOPE because it hasn’t been asked. As this issue gets more to the forefront… especially when more comes out about our inability to fund it, expect the question to be raised.

            And yes, the people who “run” the lotto are pretty well compensated. That’s why I propose a restructuring of the organization that trims some of the fat and frees up more money for the scholarship.

            • polisavvy says:

              Both points you raised seem like pretty good ideas to me — question the two candidates AND restructure the organization. I do have a question for you. And, I hope I don’t offend anyone; but, is there a study out about Pre-K and rather or not it is vitally important? The reason I ask is because my kids attended Pre-K (3- and 4-year old); however, we paid for it. The day care my kids attended offered the program and it cost us a little extra money each month). If it’s not vitally important, then why have it? Just curious.

        • ZazaPachulia says:

          The program needs an income cap, badly. It would be better to take siblings into account, as noted by ACCmoderate. There’s no reason the lottery should subsidize in state college tuition for folks who just graduated from from paying full tuition at The Lovett School or Woodward Academy. I imagine that even a generous income cap (starting at say, $150k annually for a two kid household) would right the badly listing HOPE ship.

          And if our supposed conservatives in Congress ever want to think about maybe trimming the Pentagon’s ever-increasing budget, they should consider installing an needs-based tuition system at our completely subsidized federal universities — the service academies.

          • ACCmoderate says:

            You’ve got a number of kids driving around Athens in a shiny new 4-Runner. What incentive do they have to do well in college, especially when mom and dad will pick up the tab if they lose HOPE?

            The need-based scholarship insures that the money is targeted at the kids who need it. I believe the proposed income level was $100,000 dollars. The figure should be calculated based on the number of children you have that are due to matriculate to college in the next 6 years (so if you make $150K a year and you have three kids that are 18, 16, and 14, you’re HOPE calculated income would be $50K per year).

            • Since we’re talking income caps here, that raises a question. How is it proposed that we look at income? Are we talking gross income, gross adjusted income (gross – deductions), net income actually shown on someone’s paycheck, etc?

              Being small business owners, there’s quite a large gap between our gross income and gross adjusted income. We put almost everything back into the business – including my full time job’s salary. Looking at one number we’d easily be able to afford college for our kids (if we had any). Looking at the other, you’d think we make minimum wage.

              Same could go for real estate investors. Someone that owns a bunch of rental houses that are simply paying for themselves should be able to take enough equity out of those houses to pay for college for their offspring. But if they’re simply using the income from those houses to pay the note on them or purchasing additional rental properties, their adjusted gross income should be pretty low.

              • Icarus says:

                Both parent’s income? Custodial parent? Highest income parent?

                Just an income test? Assets test?

                What about a kid who’s parents won’t cooperate with the info, especially in cases where the kid is estranged from at least one parent?

              • ACCmoderate says:

                I think gross adjusted income is the best way to look at it. My father is a small business owner so I know that what he makes isn’t necessary equal to what he earns.

                This might be a point for those more astute in tax law to argue.

                As far as Icarus’ point about calculating parental income, its cloudy… at best.

                If a child is living with both parents, the joint income of both parents should be counted.

                If the child is living with a single parent via divorce, then the income of the custodial parent will be added to the amount in child support being paid by the other parent (which is already largely determined by his/her income).

                If a second parent is estranged and has no role in the child’s life physically or, most importantly, financially, then the income of the custodial parent alone will be calculated.

                • ZazaPachulia says:

                  It’s obviously not going to be perfect right off the bat, but it will save the HOPE program… and it’s not that hard to do.

    • BuckheadConservative says:

      Number 2 is garbage. If they get in trouble with the school, then yes. But if a 21 year old sophmore passes his o-chem final and gets a little rowdy, I don’t think he deserves to lose his entire scholarship.

      I worry about the income cap effecting our ability to keep the best talent in state. I went to crappy rural public schools and made friends with kids who went to Lovett and Westminster at UGA. Those guys were MILES ahead of where I was upon arrival. Almost all of them said “I got in at XXX awesome school, but I came here b/c of Hope” As a UGA alum, I’d like to see us keep our best and brightest in house as much as possible.

      Further, the income cap isnt just going to get the “rich private schoolers” It’s going to hit some middle-middle upper class public schoolers also. I can even imagine a scenario where for political points you can see the legislature start to lower academic standards and the income gap as well. Creating an almost purely needs based system.

      Scary path

      • ACCmoderate says:

        If you’re a 21 year old getting rowdy after an O-Chem final, the only way you’re going to get an alcohol related arrest is if you’re driving drunk or doing enough to warrant a disorderly conduct charge.

        Like I said, #2 would keep the scholarships out of the hands of the idiots. Those who get arrested in downtown Athens, I was one of them, do so because they’re acting overtly rediculous and drawing attention to themselves.

        Cops don’t circle downtown Athens looking for baby faced 18 year olds, they look for the students who can’t handle their liquor or are peeing on parking meters. Those students tend to be under the age of 21.

        I stand by proposal #2

          • ACCmoderate says:

            Why? Students know the law yet they choose to break it.

            The state shouldn’t be paying for your education if you’re unwilling to abide by its laws.

            • “Why? Students know the law yet they choose to break it.

              The state shouldn’t be paying for your education if you’re unwilling to abide by its laws.”

              Because it’s a stupid law. I’m not saying they shouldn’t abide by it, but I also don’t think the punishment should be so harsh as to make them lose their scholarship for simple possession of alcohol. Getting drunk and rowdy is one thing. Having an occasional beer and being a responsible drinker is another. Anyone that is old enough to join the military should be able to sit at a bar and have a beer / mixed drink / shot / whatever. We’re telling them that they’re old enough to smoke ciggarettes and not live with their parents anymore and play the lottery, but a 5 percent alcoholic drink is enough to cause you to lose your scholarship? That’s a load of elephant manure.

              • ACCmoderate says:

                David, your argument rests on the assumption that just because someone is given one set of privliges, they should be given a whole host of others.

                To illustrate just how flawed an approach that is, I could easily expand your argument to say that “Because 16 year olds are deemed responsible enough to drive, they should also be allowed to sign up for the military/live on their own/buy cigarettes/drink alcohol/run for President/etc.”

                Having one privilege doesn’t grant you access to other privileges. I would support lowering the drinking age to 18 if 18, 19, and 20 year olds did a better job of demostrating that they could handle the responsibility, the high incidence of underage drinking arrests in Athens-Clarke County alone is evidence that they can’t.

                Lowering the point of access to alcohol isn’t going to change the decision making behavior of an 18 year old. By and large, they’re still going to act like an 18 year old. What we’ve seen from underage drinkers is a propensity to binge drink and overconsume alcohol at unsafe levels.

                However, this isn’t the case with every underage drinker out there… there are a bunch of good seeds that counterbalance the bad ones. Fact of the matter is, if you’re an 18,19,20 year old in Athens and you’re being arrested for underage possession of alcohol, its because you’ve been in a bar fight, thrown up on a sidewalk, passed out in a bush, or run screaming into the street.

                The 18 year old freshman having a beer at his apartment while he and his buddies hang out isn’t going to draw the attention of the local 5-0. ACC and UGA PD are looking for individuals who are putting themselves or others in dangerous situations… those often tend to be underage drinkers.

                I was arrested for underage drinking. I used to rant and rave about how the drinking age needs to be lowered. Now that I’m slightly older and slightly wiser, I realize that I wasn’t quite able to make responsible decisions about how much and how often I consumed alcohol.

                If you want to curb the destructive decision making taking place on campus, there need to be serious consequences for bad decisions. Students know the rules, they are willingly breaking them.

                I assure you that if parents knew that one arrest for Sally or Jimmy would result in them having to pony up a few years of tuition, that students would be a whole lot more careful about their decisions.

                In the end thats the message we want to send… its not bad to drink, but be mature and responsible about it.

                If you don’t want to be so Draconian, place students on academic probation after an alcohol related arrest for two semesters (what UGA already does) and prevent them from receiving the HOPE scholarship during the length of their probation. Same effect… less harsh.

                • “Lowering the point of access to alcohol isn’t going to change the decision making behavior of an 18 year old. By and large, they’re still going to act like an 18 year old. What we’ve seen from underage drinkers is a propensity to binge drink and overconsume alcohol at unsafe levels.”

                  Which is why I support actively telling parents that they’re legally allowed to provide alcohol to their own children within their own home. I would bet there’s plenty of parents out there that think they’d be thrown in jail if they gave their kids a glass of wine or a beer. Teaching people to be responsible with alcohol should begin at home. Instead, we set the drinking age at 21. Assuming that someone doesn’t break the law and drink under age, we’re turning someone loose on this substance when they’re out on their own. (Assuming that a majority of 21 year olds do not live at home… I don’t have any statistics on that handy.) Alcohol to the under-21 crowd is forbidden fruit.

        • BuckheadConservative says:

          They’re kids. They make mistakes. If they’re making the grades, then I don’t think we should cut their financial aid b/c they may have gotten a little too drunk and did something stupid.

          This idea that only “idiots” are the ones who screw up is absurd. We’re educating human beings, not programming robots.

          • ACCmoderate says:

            What is it they told Damon Evans? You represent the University of Georgia (or any other university).

            These high arrest numbers reflect poorly on the institution and the state… there should be a form of punishment for it.

            I don’t know why everyone lives under the assumption that UGA and ACC PD are targeting innocent kids. The ones that get arrested are the ones starting bar fights, passing out in bushes, peeing on buildings, vomiting on sidewalks, etc. etc. etc.

      • ACCmoderate says:

        The financial incentive to attend UGA won’t go away with the introduction of an income cap.

        In-state tution at UGA is always going to be cheaper than out-of-state tuition at UVA and UNC. In-state tuition at UGA is always going to be cheaper than the tuition at private universities like Duke, Vanderbilt, Emory, Georgetown, and the Ivies.

        The University of Georgia will still award merit-based scholarships like they always have. UGA will still provide a great education at a more affordable price than out-of-state alternatives.

        UGA dominates the Atlanta job market, a place where grads from Lovett and Westminster no doubt already have strong connections. Even if they leave the state, they’re probably coming back here for a well paying job.

        You’re also assuming that the best and brightest only come from private schools… which isn’t the case. We have special scholarships already set up that reward valedictorians who decide to stay in-state.

        At the end of the day however, if someone can get a good scholly to Harvard, Yale, etc. they’re going to go there regardless of UGA’s price tag.

        • BuckheadConservative says:

          These decisions are made on the margin, and that margin moves a lot when the institution of the income cap.

          I’m not assuming all the best come from the exclusive schools. I’m just saying that those schools produce a pretty good product. One we would like to have at UGA

          I’m telling you, once an income cap is in place the political temptation to lower the income cap and lower the eligibility standards will eventually turn it into a total needs based scholarship. Or at least move far enough in that direction where we start to erode the quality of Georgia’s higher education.

          • ACCmoderate says:

            The top students at Westminster and Lovett aren’t even sniffing around UGA, regardless of price. These are kids that are getting into the Harvards and Princetons and going there without a second glance.

            Even with an income cap, the “good product” already coming to UGA would still likely come here, for the reasons I mentioned above.

            If a decision is being made on the margin, most people are going to take in-state sticker price at UGA over out-of-state sticker price at UVA… especially if they were already coming here because of the low cost provided by the HOPE Scholarship.

            You’re making a pretty big assumption that the income cap will be increasingly lowered… if anything, I see the income cap going up in order to keep up with inflation and the rising cost of college tution.

            I don’t understand how you’re making the connection that moving more towards a needs-based scholarship erodes the quality of higher education in Georgia? If anything, it provides greater opportunities for students, who would otherwise not get the opportunity to pursue a higher education, the chance to go to college.

            The children of upper class families are going to go to college no matter what. That can’t be said of the child of a single parent that can’t afford a two-year community college or the children of working class parents that don’t make near enough money to put their kids through college.

            No research that I’ve read has shown that need-based scholarships lessen the quality of higher education. It’s pretty darn hard to get into UGA now-a-days… that won’t change with a HOPE income cap.

            • ZazaPachulia says:

              ACC, you’re right on the money. If I was running HOPE, the income cap would be low enough to give more to the kids who need the scholarships (include room and board, for example), relax the GPA requirements for kids in college who show the greatest financial need and keep the program on an even keel.

              If you take away HOPE from a few top-tier income categories (high / upper-middle income families, students attending private schools where tuition is higher than a certain dollar amount), you are taking some serious steps toward real education reform in Georgia. Those steps create more incentives for families and top students to attend public over private schools. They also give Georgia’s poor better access to education. Study after study shows that the education levels of parents have the biggest impact on the education and career opportunities of their kids. HOPE is supposed to give Georgians better access to higher education. Right now, by offering handouts to people who don’t need them, the system is spending a great deal of money to maintain the status quo.

              • BuckheadConservative says:

                What about handouts to people who don’t deserve them? Does that not worry you?

                I think it’s my differences with you and ACC are summed up as follows: Ya’ll would rather see HOPE operate as a social program. I’d rather see it continute to award achievement.

                • ACCmoderate says:

                  BC, an income cap would not provide handouts to people who don’t deserve them.

                  The required B average would be needed in order to qualify for the scholarship, HOPE would still be an “award achievement” for those that have worked hard and earned the grades.

                  There is no option to “do nothing” or “let it be”. We can’t raise lotto revenue. We won’t raise outside taxes to fund HOPE alongside lotto revenue. We can’t lower tuition costs (especially given the budget cuts USG has already had to endure).

                  We have two choices to limit the number of kids eligible for the HOPE scholarship or let the HOPE scholarship die.

                  If there is no HOPE scholarship, we return to a world where the rich and privileged attend colleges and universities that all Georgians pay for, while the middle-class can’t send their kids to college without burdening themselves with massive student-loans. Meanwhile the poor will just trudge on, unable to even think about pursuing higher education.

                  If we put an income cap on the HOPE scholarship, the rich and privileged kids will still be able to go to colleges at a great price. The middle-class won’t be saddled with debt in order to finance a college education. Most of all, some lucky child from a poor household will have the chance to earn an education and a better life for himself/herself and future generations.

                  Every citizen pays taxes to support our public universities, why should those places be open solely to the rich and well off?

            • BuckheadConservative says:

              I can’t type a thesis right now. Our differences can’t be reconciled. We’re coming at this from totally divergent directions.

  12. In the fall of 1993 when I went off to undergrad, I was in the first class of HOPE scholarship recipients. It didn’t pay for books, didn’t pay any crazy fees. Also, when my grades dipped below a 3.0 in the second quarter (this was before the semester system), I lost the scholarship with no chance for regaining it. Today the HOPE program does cover books and fees, the grade requirements aren’t what they used to be, and students have the opportunity to get the scholarship back if they lose it.

    Personally, I think the state is better off today. I get irritated by boat ramps and other odd pork projects that the Gold Dome and Governor cook up… but on the basics such as roads and education, I can’t agree with the hardliners who feel that government shouldn’t be involved. I’d rather pay higher taxes and have a university system closer to California’s, rather than shave a hundred bucks off my tax bill and live like Mississippi. The fantasy that everything can be done on the backs of “superspeeders”, or lottery players, or some other “sin tax” always seems to fall short of being the painless magic bullet that was imagined.

    That’s just me. But for those who are not similarly inclined, and would rather cut HOPE than fund it, the precedent is certainly there. The scope has crept up over the past 10+ years… Gov. Miller’s original program from the early-to-mid-90’s was far more modest.

    • ACCmoderate says:

      HOPE no longer pays for books or any of the new fees tacked on by the Board of Regents.

      Anyone who can pay for all their books with HOPE’s measly “stipend” isn’t taking any classes.

    • polisavvy says:

      Actually, Mississippi has a rather good program in place to provide financial aid for Mississippi residents. The qualification requirements are pretty similar to Georgia’s.

      • ACCmoderate says:

        I think he’s referencing the fact that Mississippi’s two biggest schools are both considered Tier 3 by US News and World Report while California has a number of public universities in the top tier (Berkeley, UCLA, UCSB, UC Davis, UC Irvine, etc. etc.)

        • polisavvy says:

          Sorry, if I misunderstood him. I thought he was talking about their lack of funding for in-state tuition. Their program is pretty good. Wow! Amazing about Ole Miss and Miss State, though.

          • ACCmoderate says:

            It’s not surprising. Mississippi has the highest poverty rate and the highest illiteracy rate in the country. Its hard to get kids that are capable of going to college and performing well.

            That doesn’t even take into account the fact that the state’s best and brightest try to skip town for greener pastures as soon as their able to.

            • polisavvy says:

              I guess I’m just surprised at the drop in ranking — I know how bad the education in Mississippi is as a whole. They do have a relatively good financial aid program available for the kids who live in Mississippi. They also offer incentives for the education majors at Ole Miss and Mississippi State to stay and teach in Mississippi (it pays for their education if they will devote a few years to the State).

              One thing to keep in mind about the rankings, too. It is not just based on students performance. A school can drop in rankings because of the way their library is stocked, how the living situations are on the campus, how modernized the buildings are, how up-to-date the technology is, how efficient the student health department is, etc. All these factors contribute to the rankings. If Mississippi is in the same financial boat as Georgia and can’t afford to make adjustments to their campuses, then, of course, their rankings are going to stumble. It’s not an indicator that the schools aren’t producing excellent graduates who are amply qualified.

  13. John Konop says:

    If we shorten the time kids are in school via promoting joint enrollment starting in junior high school it not only improve education it would save money and create more tax revenue.

    1) The schools could cross utilize faculties and facilities and save money on building cost and labor while increasing quality.

    2) The students would leave school quicker with skills that not only would they get a job faster via less time in school but it would be higher paying via having skills matching the job market creating more tax revenue

    3) It would lower the drop-out rate which would save money on anti-social behavior which many time ends with them being in prison, joining gangs…….

    The key would be breaking down the walls between state agencies and have the 7-12 coordinate with the higher education system. If we did this correctly Hope would not be an issue and it would help the local economy.

  14. jillchambers says:

    Get Schooled Blog

    “…the lottery increased its payments to the popular pre-k and HOPE programs. During the 2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30, the lottery transferred about $883.9 million…”

    “…Sales for the 2010 fiscal year were about $3.64 billion…”

    Per the State Auditor Examination dated 2/9/2010, here is how much is remitted per $1 ticket:
    13.5 cents for HOPE
    9.9 cents for Pre-K


    • ZazaPachulia says:

      That doesn’t sound good, but you have to pay out prize money to give lottery players an incentive. A one year audit is not a good starting point to leap to judgment. You need to look at long term trends.

    • Ramblinwreck says:

      Pre-K is nothing but an expensive baby sitting service anyway. Ditch that program and put it toward college subsidy for students after you raise the bar.

      • polisavvy says:

        I’m glad you addressed that. I did a few hours ago, but no one has answered me. Perhaps you know. Are there are stats out there on Pre-K and its impact or necessity? Our kids went to Pre-K, but we paid for it. The day care they attended provided it at an extra charge. Unless it is serving some vital role besides that of babysitting, I agree with you that perhaps it should be ditched.

        • John Konop says:

          The problem is early education in pre-k is very important. But from what I read we have a lot of poor quality early education and it does not help.


          Is poor quality early childhood education better than none at all?

          Imagine the dilema of a working parent in Georgia, dropping a child off at a child care center on the way to work. In many cases, the parent could not hold down a job without having a place to drop the child off. But what happens during the day? A study of 3,100 licensed day care centers in Georgia found settings with few age-appropriate toys, teachers who lack language skills to promote learning and safety hazards ranging from unprotected outlets to dangerous playground surfaces, according to a recent story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

          The state’s pre-k program fared only slightly better, the report found. Quality overall was considered “medium,” but the quality of instruction was generally considered to be “low.”

          According to the AJC story, only 5 percent of infant/toddler classrooms and 5 percent of preschool classrooms rated as high quality.

          What will the findings mean for the quality of early childhood education in Georgia?

          “This study really gave us the data and information we needed to move forward,” Holly A. Robinson, commissioner of Bright From the Start, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, told the paper. The agency had commissioned the study. “Let’s just hope we will have taken some big steps forward over the next 18 months to two years.”
          It will be important to follow up and find out what, if anything, has changed. And the story underscores the importance of visiting early childhood centers to find out what is happening — and what is missing.


          • polisavvy says:

            I still have mixed emotions about the necessity of the Pre-K program. I guess you have to ask yourself if it is really worth it. As you said, “Is poor quality early childhood education better than none at all?” That’s the burning question.

            As far as the dilema of working mothers, sorry, but no sympathy there. I was a working mother of two babies 15 months apart. I commuted to downtown Atlanta six days a week to work at the largest law firm — I usually put in 70 hours a week. You do what you have to do, but it’s doable. There are day cares that are open 14 hours a day (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.)(my kids were there from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.); there are also some 24-hour day cares.

            Yes, some day cares have safety issues; but, as a parent, it’s your job to seek out the proper, safest day care for your child to attend. It’s a pain in the rear to search for the best, but it can be done. For that matter, the homes that some of Georgia’s children live in have safety issues.

  15. John Konop says:

    ….“Is poor quality early childhood education better than none at all?” That’s the burning question….

    Well said and a very good question!

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