HOPE stands for Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally, and this scholarship has come to not only serve that purpose, but also to offer hope to those who are desperately in need of it.
The HOPE Program was created in 1993 under the supervision of Georgia Governor Zell Miller, to reward students with financial assistance in degree, diploma, and certificate programs. Broadly, the program is offered in three ways to the general public. There is the HOPE Scholarship program, the HOPE grant program, and the Zell Miller Scholarship program. Each of these programs are distinctly targeted at various sects of people, solve varying needs, and have varying requirements. The focus here is, however, the HOPE Scholarship program.
The HOPE Scholarship program is a merit based scholarship program that is available to students who have met the University System of Georgia and the GSFC residency requirements and are enrolled in an undergraduate degree seeking program. That is, it is created for students who have demonstrated academic achievement and are seeking a college degree. The program is fully funded by the Georgia Lottery for Education and administered by GSFC, in accordance with the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 20-3-519, et. seq. Being a merit based scholarship, the prime criteria for acceptance or rejection of any applicant for the scholarship, is based on his or her academic achievement in high school or college. However, there are other criteria that are considered.
Eligibility Criteria for the HOPE Scholarship
The HOPE program explicitly states the eligibility criteria for the HOPE Scholarship by grouping it into the general eligibility requirements and the program specific eligibility requirements. They are as follows:
General Eligibility Requirements
All applicants must:
- Be United States Citizens or Eligible Non-Citizens for 12 consecutive months prior to the first day of classes of the school term for which the HOPE Scholarship is sought
- Meet the HOPE’s Georgia residency requirements as specified
- Be enrolled as a degree-seeking student at an eligible public or private college or university or technical college in Georgia
- Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), as defined and certified by his or her Eligible Postsecondary Institution
- Be in compliance with United States Selective Service System requirements, where applicable
- Be in compliance with the Georgia Drug-Free Postsecondary Education Act of 1990. It is stated that “a student may be ineligible for HOPE payment if he or she has been convicted for committing certain felony offenses involving marijuana, controlled substances, or dangerous drugs”
- Not be in default or owe a refund on a student financial aid program
- Not have exceeded the maximum award limits for any HOPE program
Specific Eligibility Requirements
A student must:
- Graduate from a HOPE-eligible high school with a 3.0 grade point average for college preparatory diploma or a 3.2 grade point average for other diploma types, or
- Complete a HOPE eligible home study program with a 3.0 grade point average.
- For all Georgia high school graduates who begin their high school careers during or after the 2008-2009 school year must graduate with a 3.0 grade point average, or
- Graduate from an ineligible high school or complete an ineligible home study program, and then earn a 3.0 grade point average on 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours of college degree-level coursework.
- Graduate from an eligible high school, complete an eligible home study program, or earn a GED, and score in the national composite 85th percentile or higher on the SAT or ACT tests.
- Earn a 3.0 grade point average at the college level on degree coursework after attempting 30, 60, or 90 semesters hours or 45, 90, or 135 quarter hours, regardless of high school graduation status.
- Eligibility for the HOPE Scholarship is checked at the end of each spring semester and when 30, 60, and 90 credit hours have been attempted
- Awards are based on anticipated enrolment in 15 credit hours each semester. However, for 2016-2017, annual awards will be set at a maximum of $6990
- Actual payment amounts for the HOPE Scholarship will be pro-rated down for students enrolled in fewer than 15 eligible hours
- Only specific public and private institutions are eligible for the scholarship. You can see if your school is on the Georgia Student Finance Commission list.
- A student who fails to meet the regulatory requirements for the HOPE Scholarship, may, in very limited or exceptional cases, be eligible to request an exception from such regulations, if the student meets specific criteria
- Students seeking an Exception must submit the application and all supporting documentation within 45 days of receiving notice of denial for the HOPE Scholarship
- Incomplete submissions will be denied
How to apply for the HOPE Scholarship
In order to be a part of the HOPE Scholarship program, the following steps should be followed:
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or,
- Complete the online Georgia Student Finance Application (GSFAPPS) or printable paper GSFAPPS application.
The application deadline is the last day of the school term or a student’s withdrawal date, whichever comes first. Students must have an application submitted by the last day of the semester in which they are seeking the HOPE Scholarship. The Office of Student Financial Aid has set certain deadlines, however. The Summer Semester deadline is July 17, the Fall Semester deadline is November 17, and the Spring Semester deadline is April 15. HOPE Scholarship eligibility lasts until you receive a bachelor’s degree, but an HOPE Scholarship does not apply to graduate study.
Note that once you are awarded a HOPE Scholarship, you’ll continue to receive the aid each year and there is no need to reapply. Still, in order to maintain a HOPE Scholarship, you would have to keep up a 3.0 grade point average in college. For other information on the HOPE Scholarship that has not already been stated here, you can visit the HOPE foundation official website and learn more.