Bill would boost GPA of HOPE scholars who take tough classes

A bill that would boost the GPA for students taking demanding college math and science courses easily passed a House higher education committee Tuesday.

House Bill 801, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, would give students the same half-point boost to their college grade point averages for the tougher courses that they received for taking advanced classes in high school.

The bill is a way to encourage students to take the tougher math, science, technology and engineering classes that are necessary for some of the hard-to-fill jobs in the state. A study last year found some college students avoid the tough classes and more technical careers in order to keep their grades high and retain merit-based aid, like the HOPE scholarship, to fund their college tuition.

Students currently must maintain a 3.0 GPA to keep their HOPE scholarship.

Under Jones' bill, state's Board of Regents, working with the technical college system and private colleges, would identify the STEM courses that would qualify for the GPA boost. The half-point increase would apply to grades of B, C and D. That works out to 3.5 points instead of 3 for a B, 2.5 instead of 2 for a C, and 1.5 instead of 1 for a D. No extra credit would be given for grades of A or F.

The bill will not cost the state more money, said Jones, R-Milton. Instead, state lottery dollars for HOPE would be reallocated and with some funding going to these specific areas.

The latest version of the bill also requires the Georgia Student Finance Commission, which oversees HOPE, to report periodically to state lawmakers on the rigorous courses identified and the relevance of the courses to STEM fields.

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