HOPE, Budgets, and Things Like Chemistry

I’m a laid back guy. It takes a lot to really get me going. I’m an issue by issue person. To quote my former Congressman (from Macon), “I go issue by issue and decide what I think is best”. Maybe slightly paraphrased (and oh yeah, his replacement took office today. I think he’s going to do a better job; especially at following through with that.)

That said, education is an issue that is very personal. As a first generation college student, it stands next to fiscal responsibility as the most important issue to me. Naturally, I’m very alarmed about the potential future of the HOPE Scholarship if it is not handled correctly during the coming session (after all, my kids will have to make it somehow when I’m still blogging and fishing my life away).

So…with that, I’m about to defend our future Governor again (sock puppets, rejoice). And in the process offer up some ideas of my own. Here’s what Governor-elect Deal said about the matter on Monday (more here):

“I think keeping it at the 3.0 is a reasonable standard. If we raise it too much higher than that, we really do cut out some of those very deserving students who work very hard and deserve the opportunity to go to college.”

”We’ve got to look at the allocation. Some would suggest that perhaps we need to decouple it from the tuition cost. Just fix an amount. There are many options that are on the table.”

So, our next Governor has begun to stake out his position and I can honestly say that I’m glad I’m not in his shoes on this one. Regardless of the outcome, our state leaders are, in some senses, damned on this issue one way or another. That said, I am behind him. Supporting the idea of changing the allocations in such a way that reduces the overall total of money a student gets from HOPE is painful for me to consider.

But it is the best option. Read below the fold to see why. 

An income cap (suggested here by Sen. Robert Brown; he also proposed searching students’ rooms for white robes) does little but punish kids coming out of high school who can’t help how much their parents make each year. Are there certain advantages/disadvantages dependant upon location and school? Yes. Do they need to be fixed? YES. Is that the purpose of HOPE? No. It’s to reward students for academic excellence.

Which brings us to the whole notion of raising the standards. Say, raising the requirement from a 3.0 to a 3.2 can’t be that big of a deal, right? However, that’s easy to say for those on the outside looking in. This idea substantially overlooks students and their respective majors. Plain and simple, a Pre-Med, Biology, Chem, etc. (take your pick; all sciences are the devil) major will bust their tail time and time again but will (in most cases) never have a GPA near that of someone majoring in, I don’t know, Rec and Leisure Studies. It’s not right to stack the deck even further against them.

But Brandon, what about all those students who drop out of school for whatever reason and waste thousands of HOPE dollars? Simple, if you drop out of college within the first two years (I’m up for negotiation on that number), then you have to pay all of the money back. Unforseen circumstances certainly happen in many cases so an appeals system could definitely be set up for students who had emergencies, etc.

Setting a fixed amount and decoupling it from tuition cost (along with finding a way to deal with funds lost) is clearly the most logical direction to move towards. The other two proposed options clearly make valid points, but at the end of the day the two most important priorities here are the budget and the students. Governor-elect Deal’s position is on course for helping the budget while harming students in the least way possible.

I’m in his corner 100% on this one. Thoughts?


  1. PARpat says:

    It seems to me that much of the HOPE money is wasted on students who drop out of school within the first year. So I would propose 2 changes. The HOPE scholarship money would not pay for any remedial courses. And the first year’s tuition would be a loan that is forgiven upon completing 24 hours with a 3.0 or higher average. That performance would earn the student a full tuition scholarship for 4 additional years.

    • VeniVidiVici says:

      If I’m not mistaken, HOPE is currently evaluated at 30, 60, and 90 hours? I think this is best because, as we have seen, many schools in Georgia don’t sufficiently prepare students for college (speaking from experience). This sort of schedule allows students to continued to be reevaluated.

      I do like the fixed HOPE idea.

      What about private institutions?

      And I do not think that HOPE should not cover remedial courses. I think it is absolutely absurd to offer scholarship money to deserving students and then not pay for classes that are the building blocks of future learning.

    • John Konop says:

      I think the loan idea is great. Right now if the student does not do well in college they have no down side. This concept is real life lesson students need to learn.

  2. bowersville says:

    1) The loan idea is a great one. The student will realize the importance of studying to make the grades or pay the consequences, i.e. repay the loan. Real life is like that so why not academic life. There should not be a free ride for failure.

    2) Students should pay their own way for remedial courses. To me, if a person wants an education they will find a way. I did and graduated at 30 YOA and worked full time. I wasn’t ready to knuckle down at 18.

    3) Maybe students that have not been prepped properly by high school should prep themselves along with pay as they go. A little personal responsibility has never hurt anyone.

    4) Disregard tuition costs and pay a set fee based on available funds. If this method along with the loan idea is implemented the parents of the passing students, which are a majority, will see the benefit of failing students being required to repay HOPE monies if the money is treated as a loan.

    • VeniVidiVici says:

      “2) Students should pay their own way for remedial courses. To me, if a person wants an education they will find a way. I did and graduated at 30 YOA and worked full time. I wasn’t ready to knuckle down at 18.

      3) Maybe students that have not been prepped properly by high school should prep themselves along with pay as they go. A little personal responsibility has never hurt anyone.”
      “Three-fourths of students who took the ACT college entrance exam in 2006 lacked the knowledge and skills to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses in reading, math, social studies and science, even though they had taken a high school curriculum designed to prepare them for higher education, according to an ACT study.

      About one-fifth of test-takers were not ready for college-level courses in any of the four subjects, the study said.”

      Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08245/908603-298.stm#ixzz1AGtsNvMA

      Students who are not properly prepared for higher education should not be penalized because school systems haven’t done a proper job. I am of the belief that America needs a higher educated public in order to suceed in the future. The way to achieve this goal isn’t to restrict remedial courses…

      “Some students are in remedial classes because the lessons they learned to earn a high school diploma don’t match the skills they need to succeed in college. Others never learned the material in high school.”

      If readers are of the belief that problems should be fixed at the root of the problem, then the State should look into seeting up a special council for education reform and fairness…

  3. Max Power says:

    I could go with the fixed rate hope as long as it was a reasonable amount, covering say 100% of the cost of a 2 year or tech school, 75% of the cost at a second tier school and say 60% of a UGA or Tech.

    Of course I’m not opposed to raising the gpa requirement to 3.5 but then again both my kids finished with a 4.0.

  4. Gerald says:

    People, this is why a true limited government, fiscal conservative movement will never exist. You guys are arguing over the best way to save HOPE, a social welfare entitlement program that didn’t exist 20 years ago, provides no benefits to the vast majority of Georgians, and most states don’t have an equivalent for it.

    And now that the program is running out of money (as all social welfare big government entitlement programs do) everyone wants to preserve it by changing it in ways that benefit “people like me.” Low income people want income caps, higher academic achievers want to increase the GPA requirement, more affluent people (who send their kids to private or high achieving suburban public schools) whose kids aren’t exactly Einsteins want to use SAT scores, other folks want to dump the remedial education courses (which kids who are the first in their family to attend college and are products of high schools that produce few college attendees disproportionately need), other folks want to dump the private school portion (which goes not just to kids going to Emory and Mercer but also places like Truett-McConnell, Shorter, Brenau and Brewton-Parker that really aren’t that expensive and for many students are a better option than attending a state university) … wow, what a surprise, social welfare entitlement programs create all these little interest groups and pits them against each other, creating friction and division. Which, of course, causes the winners in this stakes shell game to go to the politicians to protect their benefits, and the losers to go to another set of politicians to demand “justice, fairness, and a level playing field.”

    Folks, this is what big government does. So why not end this social welfare entitlement program and replace it with a privately funded and run scholarship program? Why not have our corporate leaders, religious leaders, educational leaders and regular folk set up and administer this program and raise funds for it? It could be like the United Negro College Fund. And if the state wants to pay into some private college fund, then let them. And if this private college fund wants to require a 3.5 GPA, a 1000 SAT score, fully subsidize Dunwoody kids who go to Emory, and doesn’t pay for remedial classes (or patronize the colleges that offer remedial classes in the first place) or if they go the opposite route (low GPA, no SAT score, pay a set amount at any college, pays 100% for remedial classes, income cap, and sets aside the bulk of the money for areas of the state and the high schools that produce the fewest college graduates) then who cares, it is a private fund, they can give the money to whoever they want, and if you don’t support it you don’t have to contribute to it.

    Stuff like this is why we don’t have a true small government fiscal conservative movement. The real fight isn’t between small government and big government, but between big government and “government that benefits me but not you.” Look, HOPE is only going to become more and more of a political minefield – not to mention a revenue source for both progressives who want to remake society and conservatives to buy votes – as time goes on. Just end the thing. How are conservatives going to have the political will to substantially reform MediCare, Social Security, end corporate welfare, simplify the tax code etc. if they aren’t willing to end HOPE?

    • John Konop says:


      The father of the free market system (Adam Smith) was very supportive of public education. He was very clear on the needs of having educational opportunity for all to maintain and grow a healthy economy.

      • Gerald says:

        Supporting free market economics, supporting public schools, and supporting a huge social welfare program that pays for the education of like the 20% (if that) of Georgians that attend college are three different things.

        As far as maintaining and growing a healthy economy, our economy was booming before HOPE began to take effect. And other states with better economies than ours don’t have HOPE. By contrast, California has a much more comprehensive program designed to ensure that practically any kid who wants to go to college in that state can, and you see the mess that they are in right now.

        • Gerald says:

          I can guarantee you that he wasn’t a fan of either A) giving money to people who didn’t need it or B) creating a program to bribe kids into going to UGA instead of UNC because we were too lazy and cheap to spend the money to make UGA as good as UNC (which, incidentally, even after 20 years of HOPE and Michael Adams being president for nearly that long, and our being a bigger state with a larger pool of students and more tax revenue, IT STILL ISN’T, and the same can be said about the University of Virginia also).

          HOPE is good politics (for now) but bad policy. If you want to increase the number of highly educated Georgians, we need to do something about middle grades education. Studies have shown for years that middle grades are where the educational problems start for the most part. But that would A) cost a bit of money and B) won’t buy many votes. So, it never gets done.

    • VeniVidiVici says:

      I didn’t take the time to read your entire post because the first paragraph caught me off guard.

      “You guys are arguing over the best way to save HOPE, a social welfare entitlement program that didn’t exist 20 years ago, provides no benefits to the vast majority of Georgians, and most states don’t have an equivalent for it.”

      Are you suggesting that the HOPE scholarhip does not provide benefits to the vast majority of Georgians? I beg to differ. I firmly believe that a higher educated public is extremely beneficial to Georgia and businesses located or looking to move to Georgia.

      Maybe you wish to restate that?

      • Gerald says:

        I agree on the merits of a more highly educated public. But you don’t take a bunch of kids with 3.0 GPAs – kids who mostly would have gone to college anyway … no income cap remember, plus for low income kids Pell Grants, scholarships and similar already exist – give them a tuition scholarship and claim that you are increasing the number of educated people in the state. Look, did the percentage of kids who graduate college increase due to HOPE? Meaning has the percentage of the Georgia population that earns a college degree increased since HOPE was put into effect? Show me a study that proves that.

        Instead, the way to increase the number of educated citizens is to do a better job in K-12. Studies show that middle school is when the high achievers began to separate, the middle achievers start just padding along, and the at-risk population begins to fall off the map, and that trend continues through high school. If you are serious about a more educated population, then come up with a way to make middle school education more effective, especially for males.

        Of all the ways to improve the pool of educated citizens in this state (magnet schools, charter schools, private education, opening more military/alternative/reform schools, reforming education colleges by making them have the same entrance standards as other professional schools) giving scholarships to people who would most likely go to college anyway is the worst one.

        • VeniVidiVici says:

          I’ll be glad to conduct a bit of research to examine whether or not the number of graduates increased, because I actually am not sure.

          However, when you mention that these learners would have gone to college with or without the HOPE scholarship, I believe you are mistaken. Yes, I would have still attended college, but many students excel in school and the HOPE scholarship allows these students attend a college. I’m not sure what you do for a living, but my parents helped pay for my college and they both do quite well, therefore I do not qualify for pell grants, but without the HOPE scholarship, it would have been extremely hard for me to attend a fine institution.

          Also, I believe that in a post below you mentioned that the HOPE scholarship was formed in order to keep our high school graduates from leaving the state. Why is that so much of a problem? It is a benefit that allows students to stay in Georgia, which continues to help Georgia I would imagine. And there are many great institutions such as Mercer, Tech, Emory, UGA, GA State…

          And HOPE is funded through lottery-ticket revenues….

    • Max Power says:

      First of all I’m not a pure limited government guy, I believe in wise government policies. Increasing the number of Georgians who graduate from college is a good policy goal. The question is how do we do that. HOPE was created in part to address one aspect of the problem. Now we still have a long way to go. Almost 1/2 of the Georgians who start college don’t finish in 6 years. But we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water in the name of limited government.

      • VeniVidiVici says:

        Agreed. I helped that number by graduating in 3 years, so you’re welcome statiticians.

        The other half of the problem lies in the preparation for those learners wanting to further their knowledge by applying to college. Some of my greatest teachers were moved to the ‘bad apple’ classes because parents complained about how tough she graded.

        My suggestions would be to somehow get parents extremely involved in their school system (and not just the parents whose kids are doing great…), help kids become excited about school, and to help parents realize that sometimes their children are not the Einstein’s of the decade.

        Also, educator’s salary should not be judged by the performance of students. The most extreme variable that educators face is the home life of the children.

      • Gerald says:

        See what I wrote above. You don’t increase the number of students who graduate from college by creating a government program that gives scholarships to people who would have graduated from college anyway. Doing so is neither limited government or wise government. Look, whether people want to admit it or not, HOPE was started in response to brain drain. Too many kids were passing up UGA, Emory, and Georgia Tech (but mostly UGA) for better schools out of state. Instead of working to improve our own university system to make it more competitive with those in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and the northeast, we started this welfare program to buy off kids who had the money to pay out of state tuition at out of state schools.

        Look, HOPE was never a good idea. Stuff like giving UGA medical and engineering programs so that they could become an AAU school should have been done 20 years ago, and we still need to improve the education at a lot of our “universities in name only”, even if it means merging a few of them. (Going into debt getting a college degree that isn’t marketable is worse than not going to college at all, as lots of our college graduates have found out, especially in this economy. That is, unless you are an education major, which is primarily what these colleges produce.)

        It isn’t wise government, but the opposite. Again, if it was wise government, other states would have copied it long ago. But virtually none have, and this includes states with higher college graduation rates and better state university systems than ours. Face it: HOPE was a Zell Miller gimmick.

    • Three Jack says:

      good post gerald…didn’t we just have this discussion last week? and didn’t konop post the same inane jibberish about adam smith?

      • John Konop says:


        I guess under your definition of capitalism you would call Adam Smith a socialist. Why let facts get in the way you feel about an issue.

        ……Additionally, Smith outlined the proper expenses of the government in The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Ch. I. Included in his requirements of a government is to enforce contracts and provide justice system, grant patents and copy rights, provide public goods such as infrastructure, provide national defense and regulate banking. It was the role of the government to provide goods “of such a nature that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual” such as roads, bridges, canals, and harbours. He also encouraged invention and new ideas through his patent enforcement and support of infant industry monopolies. he supported public education and religious institutions as providing general benefit to the society……


        • Three Jack says:

          john, you posted the same thing in response last week. you’re a broken record dude, come up with some new c/p snippets.

          {{{{que the ‘talk radio’ response next}}}}

        • Gerald says:

          See above. There is a difference between public education in general and giving tuition scholarships to kids who for the most part would have wound up attending college anyway. Most states realize this, which is why virtually none have emulated the program.

    • Goldwater Conservative says:


      There are already thousands of privately funded scholarship programs…and guess what: like all privately funded enterprises…there is not enough money to go around.

      Hope is not an entitlement program. It specifically applies to everyone that meets an educational requirement. It must be earned and it can be taken away.

      HOPE has also been one of the greatest investments in our states University System. Because of HOPE and limits on the number of students a college can handle we have been able to pick students based more on merit than on wealth. Just look at the requirements to get into GA’s universities before HOPE and now. UGA, for god’s sake, is nearly as exclusive as 75% of the best private schools.

      I think the problem, Gerald, that you have with HOPE is that it is a government program that has worked better than the market solution.

      Yes it is running out of money, but only because some funds were diverted to make up state-budget shortfalls and because a bunch of ridiculous little schools like Chat-tech accept HOPE.

      HOPE does probably need to have some changes made, same with high schools (for example, Honors and AP students should not get a 5 or 10 point bump in their grades just for being honors or AP).

      • Goldwater Conservative says:

        One more thing. Progressives, in general, are not trying to remake society…they are merely attempting to allow society to change if it wants to. Conservatives tend to ignore this, but the private sector has done a good job at enslaving everybody to its will.

        What is health insurance and why have we, as a democratic society, allowed it to rule so much of our lives. Health insurance is no longer a simple account that you can tap if you get sick…it is an industry that has made an industrial niche for itself to run so many aspects of your life. There was a time when people in this country were free and now conservatives want to think the government is threatening that…you have it wrong. The market threatens your freedom…not the government.

      • Gerald says:

        See my challenges above. Show me evidence that HOPE has increased the percentage of the population of kids who graduate from college in this state. As someone who is related to a lot of people who have worked as public school teachers in economically/culturally problematic areas, I feel confident in saying that the way to accomplish this worthy goal IS NOT to bribe kids to attend UGA instead of UNC.

        Second, higher admissions standards at UGA does not mean that UGA is offering a better education. Third, making UGA more elite does not address the issue of needing a better educated workforce.

        My best example of this? The University of Nebraska. Unlike UGA, it has an open admissions policy. Unlike UGA, UNL is an AAU school and for that reason was invited into the Big 10.

        And any good conservative will tell you that the reason why private programs dried up is because people started assuming that it was the government’s job. Right now, people would never support a Georgia Scholarship Fund modeled after the very successful United Negro College Fund that helped build the black middle class because HOPE exists. Take away HOPE, and it would be much easier to get people to contribute to it. Instead of depending on gambling addicts blowing their rent money on scratch off tickets (and yes, I worked at a convenience store in a low income area, I know what I am talking about … alcohol, cigarettes and lottery tickets all day all night ugh!), we could have all these fundraisers and create an endowment. And again, the state could pay into it just as the state pays into a ton of private charities already. It could be an option on payroll deduction, or folks could check a box to donate $10 to it whenever they fill out their income taxes.

        Look, when we went to the foster care system, most of the privately funded orphanages closed because folks stopped donating to them. Are we really better off shuffling foster kids from home to home until they turn 18? Again, as someone who is related to folks who keep or have kept foster kids … I would challenge anyone who says “yes” to that idea. Oh yeah, how many longtime foster care kids get the HOPE scholarship? Hmmm … increasing the number of kids who graduate from college my foot …

        • VeniVidiVici says:

          I am sure that in order to figure whether or not the HOPE scholarship has affected the number of graduates that someone would have to run a regression, and I really don’t have the time to do that right now…

          And the reason that I expect the HOPE scholarship is because it is great for our State…in the sense of a neighborhood effect.

          Obviously our education system needs to be examined, but I don’t think that involves scrapping the HOPE scholarship?

        • Goldwater Conservative says:

          There is no discussing with a person like you. Government works much like the private sector. You get what you pay for. I never said graduation rates increased because of HOPE, only school rankings. Guess what? Highly ranked schools get more out-of state applicants. Guess what else? out of state students pay higher tuition? Screw georgia students. When the primary concern of people like you is the state budget a university sustaining itself by making more money is the politically more important route…not education.

          I think you overestimate how many people are anarcho-capitalists…not many are. When government steps in to do something there is usually a very good reason and you so called “conservatives” (a made up marketing label) always tend to believe market solutions are the best and most efficient. Often they are really efficient, but more often than that the market solution never forms and their end is profit not justice. Where are all the privately funds mental health facilities? The federal government got out of that business in the 70s and now the states are as well…but there we have yet to see funded by charity pop up since. There aren’t any.

          Are you worried about the education children receive and the quality of teachers in public schools? I do not believe you are. If you were you would be willing to allow the state to raise taxes to pay teachers from the top 10% of graduating classes. Maybe schools should start hiring teachers with PhDs in the field they teach rather than worthless education degrees. But you do not care and do not want the government, state or local, to work. Like many conservative office holders you would rather ask the world from teachers, pay them nothing, furlough them, increase the number of students in the classroom and then penalize them for not doing well enough at their job.

          You get what you pay for.

          Also, read the Preamble to the Constitution sometime and then find a good dictionary and look up the words as they were defined in the late 18th century. You might find a different meaning of the word welfare.

      • Gerald says:

        Incidentally, if you actually want to a better, more educated work force and society, you should support HOPE money going to “tiny little schools” that serve a high population of at-risk students, including those who are the first in their family to go to college. I recently attended a graduation ceremony at one of the institutions that you seem to disfavor, and the president asked the members of the audience who were the first in their families to attend college. About 75% did.

        And this is what passes for education policy in this state?

        • John Konop says:

          Graduation rates would go up if we stop the one size fit all 4 year college prep or out No Child Left behind style education. The real graduation rate is only about 50% if you do not use Kathy Cox creative math.

          We all have different talents and skills God gave us. This concept of one size fit all education verse fostering the proper aptitude and skills have help create the disaster.

          This is why making Hope exclusive for professionals only will only create larger problems. Society needs trained workers not just doctors, lawyers and scientist.

  5. I just want to say that when I saw this post this morning the Relient k reference in the title made my day 😀

    And also, I totally agree with you, Brandon. As someone who is currently in high school, I can testify to the fact that it needs reforms. Now only if some of these state legislators will take some of your suggestions and make them a reality…

  6. saltycracker says:

    Wonder if any studies have been done on the rise in cost of education in GA since Hope ? Books – wow ! That $500 doesn’t go far.

    How much goes out for the after-life (pensions & benefits) of the public workers vs. 20 yrs ago ? Early out, double dipping, high factors, col increases, short careers…..

    Suspect a big hunk of Hope goes to pay the increase in costs.
    So why should the un-poor get jacked ?
    Reminds one of the phony home value due to easy money…..

    Keep Hope – fix the black hole of education costs…..

  7. saltycracker says:

    Addressing the cheap shot at Hope for Chatt Tech – The greatest number of jobs we need for the near future are vocational – like the idea of a completiton reimbursement Hope:

    Chattahoochee Technical College is accredited by:
    Chattahoochee Technical College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees.

    Program Accreditations:

    Automotive Technology (Appalachian & Marietta campuses)

    Accounting AAS, Business Administrative Technology AAS, Management and Supervisory Development AAS, and Marketing AAS (Marietta & Paulding campuse)

    Biomedical Engineering Technology

    Culinary Arts (Mountain View campus)

    Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology (South Cobb/Austell campus)

    Environmental Horticulture Program (North Metro campus)

    Medical Assisting (Appalachian, Marietta, & North Metro campuses)

    Physical Therapist Assistant (North Metro campus)

    Radiography (North Metro campus)

    Surgical Technology (North Metro campus)

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