ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal's HOPE Scholarship bill, as amended by the State Senate on Tuesday, has been accepted by the State House and now awaits his signature.
The House voted 136 to 32 Thursday to accept the Senate's amended version of the bill. The House overwhelmingly approved an earlier version last week. Thursday's vote was a simple up or down decision, with no amendments allowed and no debate.
Read the Bill: HB 326
Breakdown of Changes: Senate's Provisions
Complete HOPE Coverage: Losing HOPE 11Alive News Special
With the governor's signature, HOPE Scholarship changes will take effect this July 1st with no grandfather clauses for current college students or graduating seniors.
That means this fall, only high school valedictorians, salutatorians, and students who graduate or graduated with both a minimum 3.7 GPA and minimum 1200 SAT score will receive a full ride, including books and fees. It's called the Zell Miller Scholarship, named after the former Georgia governor who first championed the HOPE Scholarship. The inclusion of valedictorians and salutatorians was the most notable addition to the Senate's bill.
To keep a full scholarship once they get to college, students will have to maintain a minimum 3.3 GPA in school.
Current college students who have a minimum 3.3 GPA but did not have at least a 3.7 GPA in high school and minimum 1200 SAT score will not be eligible for a full ride.
All students who graduate high school with a minimum 3.0 GPA can still receive a HOPE Scholarship equal to 90 percent of this year's tuition rate. It will not cover any increases to tuition, which are expected as soon as this summer. Books and fees will not be covered either.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Deal praised the efforts of the Legislature.
"Enduring HOPE will preserve the greatest gift our state has to offer to students and will continue to set Georgia apart on the national level as having one of the most substantial state scholarships for its high-achieving students," Deal said in the statement. "Our Pre-K is one of only four universal programs in the nation, putting us in elite company. With the visionary leadership of our Legislature, we have moved these programs from the brink of bankruptcy, closed a gigantic shortfall and placed the lottery-funded programs on firm financial footing. My special thanks today goes to Rep. Doug Collins, one of my floor leaders in the House, who ably carried the torch for this important reform. Doug worked overtime to get this done, and we have a product that makes us all proud."
Senate Democrats who voted against the HOPE changes will hold a caravan protest from the Capitol on Friday.