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05 August 2010

Democrats Barnes & Brown Differ On Ways To Save HOPE Scholarship

Earlier this week, Georgia Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown advocated that the popular HOPE scholarship program be limited to families who earn 600% (or less) of the federal poverty level.

Brown said that the original intent of the program was to create a needs-based scholarship for "bright, hard-working Georgia students who could not afford a college education." As such, the Macon Democrat declared, his Party would "restore the original intent" of the HOPE scholarship.

Roy Barnes, the state Democratic Party's nominee for governor, doesn't support Brown's proposal.

To prevent the HOPE Scholarship from running out of money, Georgia Democratic legislators are calling for excluding students from families with high incomes. But the lawmakers are unlikely to get the change past the next governor.

Both Republicans running for governor, Karen Handel and Nathan Deal, told members of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that they oppose changing the popular scholarship to a needs-based benefit.

Democratic nominee Roy Barnes said Wednesday that he wouldn't go along either.

Jones, Walter (2010-8-4). Lawmakers call for needs-based HOPE. Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved on 2010-8-5.

It's always been my understanding that the HOPE scholarship was a merit-based program and not a needs-based program. If the high school student is a Georgia resident, graduates with a "B" average and attends a Georgia college, they're eligible for the HOPE scholarship.

Making the HOPE scholarship needs-based doesn't keep with the "original intent" of the program. The original intent of HOPE was to reward Georgia students for their hard work in the classroom, and to keep Georgia's best and brightest in Georgia.

The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor are right to oppose Sen. Brown's plan to move the popular HOPE scholarship away from it's original intent.