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Senate Democrats to protest HOPE Scholarship changes

10:13 AM, Mar 11, 2011   |    comments
Georgia State University Students
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ATLANTA -- It touched thousands of lives and reshaped Georgia higher education. Now, the HOPE scholarship heads for drastic changes. Governor Deal is just days away from signing them into law.

Despite losing their Gold Dome battle, Senate Democrats are still putting up a fight. They're planning a caravan protest from the State Capitol to Bankhead late Friday morning and a rally at noon. Unlike the majority of their House counterparts who voted for the governor's proposal, Senate Democrats say Georgia disagree with the changes.

Read the Bill: HB 326
Breakdown of Changes:
Senate's Provisions
Complete HOPE Coverage: Losing HOPE 11Alive News Special

The old formula was simple: keep a 3.0, keep a full ride. The new law is much more complicated. The highest tier -- the Zell Miller scholarship -- will still pay 100 percent. But now, high school students need a minimum 3.7 GPA and a 1200 SAT or be the valedictorian or salutatorian of their school. They'll also need a 3.3 GPA in college to keep the full ride.

The regular HOPE scholarship now fluctuates with lottery performance. It will pay 90 percent of this year's tuition, but will stay flat even if tuition rises, and books and fees will not be covered. Students will still need a 3.0 GPA in high school and college to keep it. Lawmakers, including Governor Deal, say without the changes, HOPE will run out of money.

Senate Democrats did not have the votes to make income caps part of the new law. Friday's caravan will bring attention to their cause, but it likely won't change anything.

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