Lawmakers have started the discussion on how to change the HOPE scholarship program so it won’t go broke next year. The merit based aid isn’t keeping pace with rising tuition costs and increased enrollment.
President of the student finance commission Tim Connell says HOPE is facing a $244 million deficit this year and an over $317 million hole next year.
He laid out the scenario in a senate higher education committee meeting.
"I think it’s fairly clear that books and fees have to go and we have to uncouple the benefits from tuition because tuition is such a cost driver," Connell says.
Currently, the award amount varies with tuition costs. Some groups and lawmakers suggested fixing the amount of tuition the scholarship will pay for. Some other ideas… saving funds by not paying for remedial classes, setting a time limit for HOPE scholars to graduate and making standardized test scores help determine eligibility.
Right now students with a B average qualify for the program.
Since its inception in the 1990's, the program has served 1.2 million people. Currently 255,000 students are receiving HOPE benefits.