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Georgia House committee approves HOPE scholarship eligibility change

A Georgia House of Representatives committee voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a bill that would extend student eligibility for the HOPE Scholarship from seven to 15 years.

Rep. Rick WIlliams, R-Milledgeville, the main sponsor of House Bill 928, said the extension is needed to help students who had to temporarily end their academic careers for various reasons.

“It gives them time to complete their education,” Williams told the House’s Higher Education committee.

A brief informational look at the HOPE educational programs including the HOPE Scholarship and the Zell Miller Scholarship.

The bill’s supporters said the legislation is necessary because more college graduates are needed in areas such as teachers and in nursing.

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Metro Atlanta Chamber workforce development director Amy Lancaster presented data showing the graduation rate for students in the University System of Georgia was three percentage points higher for students who had 10 years to complete their coursework as opposed to seven years. The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute has pushed for the change, citing statistics showing less than 20 percent of students at some colleges receive HOPE while the average age of students is in their mid 20s.

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