Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is it possible to make Georgia HOPE even worse?

The answer evidently is, "Yes."  The state of Georgia has managed to find a way to make the HOPE Scholarship Program even more inequitable than it already was (see two Civil Rights Project reports I co-edited with Patricia Marin in 2002 and 2004 for more on this).  NPR had a story this afternoon about the changes to HOPE, with a sound bite from me.  The state has upped the GPA requirement - to 3.7 - to receive a full tuition scholarship, and added the requirement of achieving at least a 1,200 on the SAT (or 26 on the ACT).  These changes are likely to mean that lower-income and minority students will receive less money, and upper-income and white students will be more likely to retain the full scholarship.  Not exactly a step in the right direction for a state that still has large gaps in college access and attainment between white and minority students.

When Tennessee was considering implementing its lottery-funded scholarship program back in 2004 - which, not coincidentally, was modeled on Georgia HOPE - it ran some simulations based on high school GPA and ACT scores.  The data showed that white students were approximately 10 times more likely than black students to have a GPA of 3.76 or greater and an ACT score of 26 or more.  Similarly, students from families with incomes of $100,000 and above were about 5 times more likely to have this level of achievement than were students from families with incomes below $36,000 (which was about the median income in the state at the time).  It is likely that the results in Georgia would be very similar.

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