Lawmakers recommend changes to HOPE Scholarships

Lawmakers recommend changes to HOPE Scholarships (Image 1)

On Tuesday, a State Senate Task recommended an adoption of a lottery scholarship stabilization plan. Currently, money from lottery sales helps students through college scholarships.

This plan aims to help cut down the lottery's financial deficit, while still helping students with scholarships.

The task force is made up of state senators, Tennessee's constitutional officers, and higher education leaders.

“We're [the task force] focused on that task at hand to make the lottery scholarship program viable in the long term and to serve as many students as we could,” said Senate Education Chairman, Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville).

The task force is proposing a change to the requirements for the $4,000 HOPE Scholarship.

“A person who wanted a HOPE scholarship would have to have the ACT and the GPA to qualify for a $4,000 a year scholarship, HOPE scholarship,” Sen. Gresham told Nashville's News 2.

Students who only meet one of the ACT or GPA requirements would still be able to get half of the scholarship.

The recommended change would not take effect until 2015.

Currently, students must only meet either the ACT or GPA requirement to receive the scholarship.

Sen. Gresham added, “We had to find a way to make the program viable in the long term.”

Those in the higher education field, like Brian Keister, Scholarship & Lottery Coordinator at Tennessee State University, find this recommendation to be fair, even if it means some students could lose out on scholarship money.

“We can't expect the state or the federal government to pay for our entire education and I don't think there's anything wrong with setting requirements,” Keister told Nashville's News 2, “It's tough because for some students, they may be losing some through eligibility by maybe not meeting one of the requirements but at the same time at least they know ahead of time.”

Both Keister, and the Senate Task Force hope this change would encourage, not discourage students to work harder, in order to get the scholarship.

The recommendation will be included in a report due to the Speaker of the Senate on Thursday and is expected to go before the legislature in January 2012.

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