FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATLANTA – Households in counties with the lowest median incomes receive a smaller share of HOPE college assistance than households in counties with the highest median incomes, even though they contribute more to Lottery proceeds that fund the program, according to a report released today by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI).
GBPI’s report, “HOPE for Whom? For Some it Doesn’t Pay to Play the Lottery,” found the opposite is true for households with the highest incomes. They get the largest share of HOPE dollars but spend a smaller share of their income on the Lottery, the GBPI report concludes.
Reforming HOPE to change this equation is crucial to Georgia’s economic future. At a time when the state is trying to boost the number of college graduates so it remains economically competitive, policymakers should do all they can to increase access to HOPE grants and scholarships.
By 2020 an estimated 61 percent of all jobs in the state will require a career certificate or college degree. Now, only 34 percent of adults in Georgia have an associate degree or higher, creating a sizable skills gap that must be closed.
Paying for college has often been a deal-breaker for many would-be students. Tuition and fees in Georgia have steadily increased over the past decade — by 87 percent, on average, since 2005. Financial hardship is the number one reason students leave school before earning a degree or certificate.
“Georgia students and families are feeling the impact of declining state support for higher education in the form of significant increases in tuition and fees.” said Cedric Johnson, GBPI Policy Analyst. “Ensuring access to a post-secondary education for all qualified Georgia students must be a priority for policymakers.”
HOPE offers a solution. But with state lottery proceeds dwindling, HOPE must be invested in a way that yields the greatest returns to college students and employers. Focusing limited resources on those students who, if not for HOPE, would be unable to attend a college or a technical school offers the greatest economic benefit for the state.
Helping technical college students– the very people most in demand by employers- is especially critical to boosting the economy. These students have greater opportunities to meet business demands because of the technical skills they learn and their high rate of success at landing jobs. But a recent rule change that made it harder for some technical college students to qualify for HOPE cost nearly 4,200 students their grants, according to the GBPI report. The new GPA requirement fell hardest on students from low- and moderate-income households, who are more likely to attend the less expensive technical colleges. If such students continue to lose eligibility, many workers will lack the skills needed for increasingly technical jobs and employers will have a hard time filling job openings. Georgia’s economy will suffer.
“HOPE must be invested in a way that yields the greatest return to college students and the state,” said GBPI Executive Director Alan Essig. “Maintaining a broad reach for the HOPE program is critical to boosting college graduation rates and promoting economic development throughout the state.”
For more information download GBPI’s report, HOPE for Whom? For Some it Doesn’t Pay to Play the Lottery.
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About the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
GBPI is the state’s leading independent, nonpartisan nonprofit engaged in research and education about the fiscal and economic health of the state of Georgia. GBPI provides reliable, timely analysis of Georgia’s budget and tax policies, and promotes greater state government fiscal accountability, improved services and an enhanced quality of life for all Georgians.