Higher Education: Legislative and Budget Updates

  • The Senate Higher Education committee passed HB 218 and HB 444. HB 218 would extend the time that students have to earn HOPE after high school to ten years from the current seven. This bill would not affect HOPE award caps or GPA requirements. The Department of Audits and Accounts estimated a budget impact beginning in FY 2027 of $1.9 m – $4.1 million in lottery funds.
  • HB 444 makes a number of changes to the Dual Enrollment program. Read our updated bill analysis.
  • The House Higher Education committee met for the final time and passed SB 161. The bill weights A grades in AP, IB and Dual Enrollment courses to a 4.5 for high school HOPE eligibility calculations.
    • Though the bill lacks a fiscal note, it will cost $11.5 million in lottery funds, according to informal estimates by the Georgia Student Finance Commission. About $10 million is due to an estimated 2,651 more students gaining eligibility for the full-tuition Zell Miller Scholarship, and about $1 million is due to 328 additional students qualifying for the HOPE Scholarship.
  • From 2016 – 2018, the total dollar amount of HOPE Scholarships grew by 7 percent, and Zell Miller Scholarships grew by 30 percent. HOPE Grants declined by 20 percent.

The Senate passed its version of the budget. It differs from the House budget in the following ways:
  • $2.5 million more in lottery funds for HOPE Grants to meet the projected need
  • $6.5 million more in state funds for Dual Enrollment (closer to Governor’s recommendations)
  • $1.8 million for the Augusta/UGA medical partnership expansion
  • $250,000 in TCSG budget for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership with the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training
  • $100,000 for recruitment and mentoring of underrepresented students in university system pursuing STEM degrees or cybersecurity certificates

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