January 1991: Newly elected Gov. Zell Miller proposes a state lottery with proceeds to be earmarked for education programs. The House and Senate agree, setting the stage for a public vote.
1992: The state begins a pre-kindergarten pilot program serving 750 at-risk 4-year-olds at 20 sites.
November 1992: Nearly 2.2 million Georgians vote on the lottery, approving it by fewer than 100,000 votes.
June 1993: Georgia Lottery ticket sales begin, with more than $13 million worth sold the first day.
September 1993: First HOPE Scholarship awarded, funded by lottery proceeds. It covers up to two years of college tuition. Also that year, lottery funds help expand pre-k to more than 8,700 at-risk 4-year-olds.
December 1993: Lottery sales surpass $463.5 million — the amount projected for the first year — after five months.
July 1994: With lottery sales ahead of forecasts, HOPE expands to cover four years of tuition, as well as mandatory fees and a book allowance.
July 1995: Family income cap for eligibility removed.
August 1999: Total lottery sales since inception surpass $10 billion.
July 2000: Pell Grant offset removed. Previously the HOPE scholarship payments began where the federal aid ended.
July 2003: A month after the lottery’s 10th anniversary, Gov. Sonny Perdue hails the “$6 billionth dollar” dedicated toward education programs.
May 2004: Lawmakers approve significant changes to HOPE. They include new rules for calculating GPA eligibility, freeze how much students will get for mandatory fees and establish “triggers” to cut benefits if reserves get too low.
January 2007: The one-millionth HOPE recipient is celebrated at Georgia State University.
March 2011: With financial pressure mounting, Gov. Nathan Deal signs House Bill 326, an overhaul of HOPE to prevent it from going broke. It ties the standard HOPE scholarship to lottery revenue, not tuition rates, so payouts can fluctuate annually and do not cover full tuition. Also, book and fee allowances are eliminated. A new full-tuition scholarship, the Zell Miller award, is created for high-achieving students. And the bill raises the GPA requirement to 3.0 for the technical college version of the program, called the Hope Grant.
November 2012: Trying to stay popular with younger players and consumers in general, the lottery launches online ticket sales for Powerball, Mega Millions and Fantasy 5.
February 2013: President Obama, calling for nationwide expansion of pre-k programs, cites Georgia’s lottery-funded program in his State of the Union address.
April 2013: Gov. Nathan Deal sings House Bill 372, which reinstates the 2.0 grade-point average for technical college students to be eligible for the HOPE Grant. Thousands lost it when they could not meet the 3.0 GPA rule.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.