Georgia Senate approves bill to boost minimum HOPE scholarship

Georgia Senate approves bill to boost minimum HOPE scholarship

February 24th, 2016 by Associated Press in Politics

Georgia Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton

Georgia Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Senate voted to approve a bill on Wednesday that would increase the minimum amount of money doled out to high school graduates through the state's HOPE scholarship program.

State senators voted 51 to four on the bill, which would set the minimum amount at $2,000 per semester paid out to students through the program. The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R -Dalton.

If signed into law, the individual credit hour amount will be set at a minimum of $134. Students must be enrolled in more than five credit hours of classes to be eligible for the scholarship.

"This should be something all Georgians support," Bethel said.

State Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker, asked if tuition increases would be a factor if the legislation was passed into law.

Bethel said the bill would be a responsible measure and the new minimum scholarship amounts would not result in future tuition hikes at state universities.

Bethel went on to say that he did not think the board of regents would increase tuition costs and run the risk of losing students.

State Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, asked Bethel if a mechanism would be in place to limit the upper end of the scholarship amounts being paid to students. Bethel responded that students would not receive amounts exceeding their cost of tuition.

"There are several students receiving HOPE scholarships well in excess of $2,000, and at the flagships are $3,400 and up, per semester, so we don't think it should be more than that," Bethel said.

Students currently eligible for the HOPE scholarship must graduate from an eligible high school or accredited high school program with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

The bill will now go to the House for consideration.


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