Georgia prides itself on the HOPE scholarship program, but a new
report from a national education group gives the state an F in making
Overall, Georgia got a mixed report card: a C in preparing kids for
college, a D in college participation, or the percentage who attend
college, and a B in the percentage of students completing college.
Georgia wasn't alone in getting an F in affordability. More than
two-thirds of the states scored as low, and most states that didn't
get an F got a D. California got the highest grade Â- a B Â- because it
offers need-based financial aid, Jones said.
Georgia's F is stinging in light of the state's reputation as a
national leader in using lottery revenue to help families pay for
college. Other states, such as West Virginia, have modeled their
merit-based scholarships after HOPE.
The study considered college costs relative to average family incomes.
Georgia's incomes are so low Â- $20,201 for the lowest-earning 40
percent of the population Â- that college is unaffordable, researchers
concluded. The cost of a four-year college here, including room and
board, was listed as $7,107 a year.
Students from the poorest families are eligible for federal aid but
not for enough aid to cover all college costs.
Georgia officials pointed out flaws in the study. For example, many
students do not need room and board, said Arlethia Perry-Johnson, a
spokeswoman for the University System of Georgia. And Georgia's
tuition is lower than most in the nation, ranking 35th for research
universities and 39th for two- and four-year institutions.
Although HOPE is merit-based, millions of dollars go to students from
poor families, he said. In 2002, $88 million of $322 million went to
students from families poor enough to qualify for the federal grants.
Also, HOPE provides a free education to any Georgian who wants to
attend a technical college, he added.
Hamrick might introduce a bill next year that would address need-based
True - But the difference is that Georgia public colleges, like UGA
and Georgia Tech, show up on Money, Fiske and other "Best Buy" college
guide lists. It seems that a Georgia college education is not the
bargain some would have you believe...put another way - it is just as
expensive as publics anywhere else -