Funded by the state lottery, the HOPE Grant goes to students in the state’s technical college system.
Georgia’s HOPE Grant is a separate program from the HOPE Scholarship, which has a different set of minimum requirements for eligibility.
“I certainly appreciate the governor doing it and not just looking at the idea because it came from a Democrat and saying ‘no,’” Evans said.
Evans pushed for the change after noticing an enrollment drop in the technical college system when Deal raised the requirement to 3.0 in 2011.
Evans said 42,000 recipients of the HOPE Grant left the system after the 2011 changes to the lottery system went into effect. Of those, about 8,900 lost eligibility because of the GPA requirement. A large portion of the rest of the 42,000 left because of another part of the 2011 change, which switched the HOPE Grant from paying for full tuition to becoming a percentage based on lottery revenues.
Evans said the GPA change from 3.0 to 2.0 is estimated to cost between $5 million and $8 million annually.
The average age of a technical college student is 28 with most coming from a household income of less than $40,000.
“So any little bit of changes in financial aid to them can be the difference between them staying in school and not staying in school,” she said.
Once passed by the House and Senate, the change is expected to go into effect with the new school year, she said.
Deal said in a news release that the state is able to expand funds for the HOPE Grants because of recent growth in lottery revenues. In the first six months of this fiscal year, deposits were up $32 million, a 7.6 percent increase over the same period the year before.