Rising college tuition is pricing some students out of a college education; however, some students in Georgia may be able to attend an in-state college for free through the help of supplemental grants and the HOPE scholarship, which was established in 1993 with proceeds from the state's lottery. The scholarship pays a set amount per credit hour depending on the school attended, and supplemental grants can make up the cost the scholarship does not cover.
Be a Georgia resident. Students who have lived in the state for 12 consecutive months prior to the first day of college classes are considered residents. Proof of residency is required, such as an apartment lease.
Earn a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA while in high school. Students can also enroll in college courses and earn a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA in 30 semester hours to receive the HOPE scholarship retroactively, regardless of high school graduation status. Scholarship funds will be paid for the 30 semester hours after they have been completed.
Graduate from an accredited high school or home-school program. An approved regional accrediting organization must accredit high school and home-school programs both within and outside the state of Georgia. Alternatively, score in the 85th percentile or higher on the SAT or ACT if you've earned a GED or graduated from an unaccredited high school or home-school program.
Enroll in a degree program at an eligible Georgia college or university.
Complete either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the GSFAPPS, the application for most Georgia grants and scholarships. Notification of funding depends on when students submit their application, but most students should know their status before classes begin.
Maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA in college. Student grades are reviewed at the end of every 30 hours of semester credit, as well as at the end of each spring semester, for continued eligibility for the HOPE scholarship. Students do not have to maintain a minimum number of hours to be eligible for the HOPE scholarship.
Apply for supplemental grants. Students who are eligible for the HOPE scholarship are paid a flat amount per credit hour, up to 15 hours, depending on the school that they attend. Supplemental grants can make up the remaining cost of tuition, so students do not have to pay anything.
Complete your degree within 127 semester hours. The HOPE scholarship is capped at 127 hours. If a student has just one more three-credit-hour class to take and the scholarship has one more credit hour left, the student will only receive funds for that single final credit hour.
The HOPE scholarship program has changed a great deal since its inception because of budget cuts and the popularity of the program. State legislators have discussed making further changes, which could limit the amount that students receive.
- The New York Times; Georgia Facing a Hard Choice on Free Tuition; Kim Severson; January 2011
- Georgia Student Finance Commission: Georgia Residency Requirements for State Programs; 2011-2012
- Georgia Student Finance Commission: HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant Standard Undergraduate Award Amounts for Fiscal Year 2014
- The HOPE scholarship program has changed a great deal since its inception because of budget cuts and the popularity of the program. State legislators have discussed making further changes, which could limit the amount that students receive.
Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.