HOPE — Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally — is Georgia’s unique scholarship and grant program that rewards students with financial assistance in degree, diploma and certificate programs at eligible Georgia public and private colleges and universities, and public technical colleges. Funded entirely by the Georgia Lottery for Education, which also funds Georgia’s statewide prekindergarten program, the HOPE Program began in 1993 and has since disbursed about $6 billion to more than 1.4 million students.
Voters passed the Georgia lottery amendment in Nov. 1992 and Gov. Zell Miller immediately established a pipeline of proceeds for the HOPE Scholarship. The first lottery ticket was sold the following June and in September of 1993, Matthew Miller of Snellville was awarded the first HOPE Scholarship. It is worth noting that fewer than 20 percent of Georgia adults had a bachelor’s degree in 1990, compared to 28 percent now.
But 10 years in — faced with skyrocketing costs — lawmakers began making cutbacks by tightening qualification standards and changing the coverage. In 2011, HOPE paid, on average, about 90 percent of tuition costs, but that figure is expected to drop below 60 percent in the next few years.