What about HOPE?

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The changes made to the HOPE Program this spring prompted many questions for college students and families. What”s covered? What”s changed? And how do the changes affect me?

In short, whether you are a recent high school grad, a current college student or an adult of any age ready to return to the classroom, you want to know — what about me?

The financial aid representatives at Gwinnett Tech are working with both current and prospective students to help them best use HOPE benefits to help pay for college. Plus a special website – “## has been created to provide technical college students with the latest information specific to their attendance at one of Georgia”s 26 technical colleges.

Even with the changes, Georgia”s HOPE Program is one of the best and most accessible financial aid programs in the country. And, at Gwinnett Tech and other technical colleges, students have the most HOPE options. Not only can they use the HOPE Scholarship – they can also use HOPE Grant to help pay college tuition. The Grant is only available at a technical college and has special guidelines for students that make it widely available.

“For a current Gwinnett Tech student – or someone who”s interested in attending Gwinnett Tech – earning and keeping the HOPE means tremendous cost savings, and that”s on top of the outstanding educational value and affordable tuition already in place at GTC,”# explains Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels. “We”re doing everything we can to make sure that our students understand how to earn and keep HOPE benefits.”#

HOPE Program 101
The HOPE Program is Georgia”s merit-based financial aid program and includes two major options – the HOPE Scholarship and the HOPE Grant. The HOPE Scholarship is used by eligible students to purse an associate degree. The HOPE Grant is used to pursue either a diploma or a certificate – shorter programs offered only at technical colleges.

What”s Changed?
While there are changes specific to either the Grant or the Scholarship, there are key changes that apply to the HOPE Program as a whole.

Beginning Fall Semester 2011:

  • The HOPE Grant and Scholarship will cover 90 percent of tuition, calculated on 2010-2011 standard Technical College System of Georgia tuition, or $60.75 per credit hour at Gwinnett Tech.
  • Any tuition increase for the 2011-2012 school year will not be covered.
  • Once enrolled, students on the HOPE Grant must earn and maintain a 3.0 GPA to retain benefits. The first checkpoint will be at 30 semester hours.
  • For current technical college students on the HOPE Grant, the 3.0 GPA requirement does not take effect until the end of Fall Semester 2011.
  • The new Zell Miller Scholarship pays 100 percent tuition for students graduating from high school with a 3.7 GPA and a 1200 SAT score, combined from the reading and math portions.
  • Books and mandatory fees will not be covered.
  • The HOPE Scholarship no longer pays for learning support classes. (But the HOPE Grant does.)
  • Students with a bachelor”s degree are not eligible for HOPE benefits.
  • The HOPE Grant and Scholarship awards will be adjusted annually, based on lottery revenue.

Don”t Miss This!
Need”to-Know Info about the HOPE Grant
Here”s one fact everyone should know: There is no GPA requirement to enroll at Gwinnett Tech – or any Georgia technical college – on the HOPE Grant in a diploma or certificate program.

Once enrolled, students will need to earn a 3.0 GPA to keep the HOPE Grant, but the first GPA checkpoint won”t be until they”ve completed 30 semester hours – usually about two semesters for a fulltime student.

Current students on the Grant have some time before the first GPA checkpoint, too, because the new rule doesn”t take effect until the end of Fall Semester 2011. And then, only students who crossed the 30 or 60 semester hour checkpoint during that semester will have their GPAs checked.

This means that newer students at Gwinnett Tech and other technical colleges have additional time to improve their GPA, if necessary. Also, students who crossed a semester hour checkpoint with satisfactory academic progress before Fall Semester 2011 will keep the HOPE Grant until they either graduate or reach the 60-hour checkpoint

What”s a Checkpoint?
For both the HOPE Scholarship and the Grant, students need to have a 3.0 GPA at certain times during their college studies. These checkpoints occur when you”ve completed 30, 60 or 90 semester hours, depending on the length of your program.

Know Your Limits
The HOPE Grant will cover up to 63 semester hours of your college education and the Scholarship will cover up to 127 semester hours.

Time-wise, you have seven years after graduating from an eligible Georgia high school to use the Scholarship, but there are no time restrictions on the Grant.

Need Learning Support?
It”s covered
Students can use the HOPE Grant for learning support classes and they won”t count in GPA or checkpoint calculations, but they do count toward the hours cap for the Grant.

Military Benefits
When it comes to the HOPE Program, military personnel, their spouses and their dependents are considered Georgia residents.

I”m graduating from high school with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

  • You can enroll at Gwinnett Tech on either the HOPE Scholarship or Grant, depending on which program you choose. (There are hundreds of options!)
  • Earn a 3.0 GPA at the checkpoints, and you”ll keep your benefits.

I”m graduating from high school, but my GPA is less than 3.0.

  • You can enroll at Gwinnett Tech on the HOPE Grant to pursue either a diploma or a certificate in programs ranging from healthcare to horticulture.
  • Your first GPA checkpoint will come after you”ve completed 30 semester hours – for most fulltime students that”s after two semesters or about one year.

I”m in technical college now with a 3.0 GPA.

  • With a 3.0 GPA, you”ll retain HOPE benefits, regardless of whether you”re using the HOPE Scholarship or Grant.
  • If you”re on the Grant, the GPA requirement doesn”t start until after Fall Semester 2011. If you”ve already passed the 30 semester hour mark, your GPA won”t be checked until you complete 60 hours.
  • At the end of Fall Semester 2011, GPAs will only be checked for students who completed 30 or 60 hours during the semester.

I”m a current technical college student and I don”t have a 3.0 GPA.

  • You will now need a 3.0 GPA for both the Scholarship and the Grant.
  • But, for the Grant, the rule doesn”t take effect until after Fall Semester 2011. And then, only students who passed the 30 or 60 semester hour checkpoint will be checked.
  • So, if you haven”t reached 30 hours yet, you have some time to improve your grades. If you completed 30 hours before Fall Semester 2011, your GPA won”t be checked until you reach 60 hours – if you need that long to complete your program.

I need to go to college, too.

  • You”re eligible for the Grant, regardless of when you graduated from high school or what your GPA was.


  • You”ll need to meet the Georgia residency requirement for 24 months before you enroll.

I”m trying to decide which college is best for me.

  • Gwinnett Tech and Georgia”s technical colleges are the state”s most affordable option for higher education, and offer HOPE Program benefits.
  • GTC offers hundreds of career-focused programs that you can finish in two years or less. You”ll also find flexible schedules, online options and a consistently high graduate job placement rate.
  • With articulation agreements with many other Georgia colleges and universities, technical college is a great place for students to complete their core college courses. Plus, the list of classes guaranteed to transfer to a Board of Regents institution was just expanded.

For more information about Gwinnett Tech, visit or call 770-962-7580 to schedule a campus tour.

For more information about the HOPE Program and Georgia”s technical colleges, visit