AJC: Full HOPE scholarships disproportionately going to well-to-do families in suburban Atlanta

HOPE isn’t going under this year, but the long term funding picture is grim, as has been widely reported. Lottery sales seems to have plateaued, while the number of students hoping to go to college in Georgia is increasing along with education costs.

The AJC has some great coverage today of the new Zell Miller Scholarship, designed to pay full tuition to the top tier of students: Full scholarship’s reach very narrow

From the piece:

Those most likely to afford college without the state’s financial help are benefiting the most from the full-tuition scholarship, while students from low-income homes and the first in their families to attend college are least likely to get it, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

An investigation of enrollment, eligibility and scholarship data obtained by the AJC through the state’s Open Records Act also found:

● Schools in the five most populous metro Atlanta counties — Cobb, DeKalb, Fayette, Fulton and Gwinnett — graduated almost half of the students eligible for the Zell Miller award. The proportion tipped beyond when a smaller metro county, Forsyth, was added, even though those six counties account for just one-third of the state’s high school seniors.

There is a whole lot more in the piece about various proposals and counter-proposals. Supporters of the current HOPE policies increasingly term any attempt to means test benefits as turning the scholarship into an “entitlement”. I don’t see it that way — none of those hoping to change the HOPE formulas are advocating throwing out GPA and other academic performance as factors.

From the piece:

Representatives from rural Georgia said they were troubled by how few of their students received the scholarship. Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, said residents of Dooley, Macon and Quitman counties spent nearly $15 million on lottery tickets in 2010, but that local high schools typically saw only two or three students receive the Zell Miller award.

“When I look over the data of the counties I represent in rural Georgia, we get very little back from the Georgia Lottery,” Hooks said. “The poorer areas are buying disproportionate amounts of lottery tickets and getting very little in return.”

Which raises another thorny question: while the Lottery has undoubtedly helped buoy higher education in the state, what other detrimental economic effects has the self-selected tax had on poor and rural areas?

1 comment for “AJC: Full HOPE scholarships disproportionately going to well-to-do families in suburban Atlanta

  1. Anniken Davenport
    February 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Here in PA we give our lottery money to the elderly rather than to education. So we have a massive brain drain. I guess in GA your lottery supports white flight to the rich suburbs. Not sure either is good policy

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