Stacey Abrams outlines higher education plan for Georgia

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Saturday laid out her plans to make college more affordable for students, increase accessibility and make campuses safer.

Her proposals include:

  • Needs-based aid for low-income students that would be called HOPE 2.0, restoring tuition-free certificates and diplomas for students with at least a 2.0 grade-point average, a "Cradle to Career Savings Program," which seeds a savings account for children at birth and can be used for higher education. These initiatives, and others, would cost an estimated $100 million in its first year, the campaign said. The money would come from state funds, the Georgia lottery, private funds and better collection of state tax revenue, the campaign said.
  • Ensure there's enough money to properly fund the University System of Georgia's ongoing College 2025 initiative.
  • Mandate every University System of Georgia institution have meetings with students before entering and ending their education that share information about federal programs that forgive student loan debt.
  • Continue Tuition Equalization Grants to help students afford tuition at private colleges and universities in Georgia.
  • $5 million to provide a free SAT and ACT for all public school students statewide.
  • Work to repeal "campus carry," the law that allows people to carry concealed firearms at some locations of public college campuses.

Stacey Evans, the other leading Democratic Party candidate, has said she wants to restore the HOPE Scholarship, which initially offered free tuition to students with at least a B average, to its original promise. Evans has frequently criticized Abrams for negotiating, as House Minority Leader, with Gov. Nathan Deal in 2011 on changes to HOPE eligibility in order to keep the scholarship solvent.