Georgia Gov. Proposes Major Changes in Lottery Program

By Rogers, Donna W. | Black Issues in Higher Education, March 7, 1996 | Go to article overview

Georgia Gov. Proposes Major Changes in Lottery Program


Rogers, Donna W., Black Issues in Higher Education


Augusta, GA -- The Georgia Lottery has produced cash for winners and scholarships for students. But Gov. Zell Miller (D) has proposed changes in the system that critics charge could deny hundreds of African Americans the hope of going to college.

Since 1993, the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally scholarship program -- nicknamed HOPE -- has been funded with money channeled from the state lottery. This year, Georgia expects to award about $108 million in scholarships. Public and private colleges are expected to share the money equally. But that's where the equality ends.

A Georgia high school graduate with a B average can qualify for a $2,000 scholarship to attend an in-state public college and $1,500 to attend an in-state private college.

To keep the scholarship, public college students must maintain a B average in all courses, including electives, but private college students do not need to maintain any preset grade requirement in order to keep the scholarship.

Miller is proposing that private college students must maintain a B average to keep the scholarship and that only the core courses such as English, math and science should be used to calculate the grade average.

Miller said the proposed standards will "enable us to send to college better-prepared students who will be less likely to lose their scholarships once they get there. That way, everybody wins -- the students and the colleges they attend."

But, says Gary Henry of the Georgia State University's Applied Research Center. that may mean fewer African-American students might qualify.

Forty-four percent of all HOPE students in 1994-95 would not have scholarships under Miller's new rules, Henry said. That includes 3 percent fewer African-American students.

Although the proposed changes have been talked about for a year and a half, they only recently gained momentum as Miller has entered the second year of his second term.

Miller won re-election in a close race and in his second term he has made education, on all levels, a priority. His HOPE proposals are part of a bill submitted to a joint House-Senate committee, which is considering changes in the half-completed 1995-96 state budget. …

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