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What's Changed? Updates to the HOPE Grant and more state financial assistance starting in Fall 2014

Since 1993, the HOPE Program has enabled tens of thousands of Georgia students to enroll in the state's technical colleges and receive an exceptional technical education. The HOPE Grant, in particular, has helped to train many Georgians who attended the 24 colleges of the Technical College System of Georgia and have become a vital part of Georgia's world-class, 21st Century workforce.

The Governor and General Assembly have worked to carefully manage HOPE and guarantee that future generations of Georgians will be able to share in the many educational opportunities afforded by what is still one of the very best college financial aid programs in the nation. In 2014, the Governor and General Assembly provided additional HOPE and other state financial assistance specifically for students attending the TCSG colleges.

Here's what's been added:

100% tuition with the Zell Miller Grant: New this year is the Zell Miller Grant, which will pay 100 percent of tuition for high-performing TCSG students who maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher in certificate and diploma programs.

Additional assistance for students in SIWDG programs: Also new is the expansion of Georgia's Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant to include four new program areas. Students can take advantage of the SIWDG to supplement their HOPE Grant or Zell Miller Grant and, in almost all cases, use those resources to pay for all of their tuition as well as their books and fees. Starting in fall 2014, Welding, Healthcare Technologies, Diesel Mechanic and Information Technology were added to the list that already included Commercial Truck Driving, Early Childhood Care and Education, and Practical Nursing.

Low-interest SALT loans for TCSG students: Georgia has funded a new, need-based, low interest Student Access Loan - Technical (SALT) for technical college students. SALT, which is administered through the Georgia Student Finance Authority, will be awarded in amounts between $300 and $3,000, depending on need.

And the HOPE Grant GPA was returned to 2.0 in 2013: Finally, it's important to note that the grade point requirement needed to keep for the HOPE Grant (not the Zell Miller Grant) was returned to a minimum of 2.0 in 2013. Some students may have lost the HOPE Grant between 2011 and 2013 when the GPA requirement was raised to 3.0. If you lost your HOPE Grant eligibility between 2011 and 2013, then you may once again qualify as long as your GPA remained at or above 2.0. Contact your local TCSG college to learn more.

What TCSG Students Need to Know About the New Additions:

  • Starting in Fall Semester 2014, the Zell Miller Grant will pay 100% of tuition for high-achieving students who enroll in certificate or diploma programs at a TCSG college or in a technical division program at Bainbridge State College, which is part of the University System of Georgia.

  • To obtain the Zell Miller Grant, a student must have a GPA of 3.5 or better after the completion of a college semester, then maintain the minimum GPA at the end of each subsequent semester (the Zell Miller Grant GPA requirement is different for the standard HOPE grant, which requires a GPA checkpoint at 30 and 60 semester hours). For more about the Zell Miller Grant, click here.

  • TCSG students who are receiving the HOPE Grant or Zell Miller Grant may also be eligible for additional financial assistance from Georgia's Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant (SIWDG) Award for the following TCSG programs: Commercial Truck Driving, Early Childhood Care/Education, Practical Nursing, Welding, Healthcare Technologies, Diesel Mechanic and Information Technology. To qualify, a TCSG student must be fully admitted to the college, enrolled in one of the above programs and receiving the HOPE Grant or Zell Miller Grant for the same term. Click here to learn more about the Georgia's Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant (SIWDG) Award.

  • Books and mandatory fees are not covered by the HOPE grants or scholarships, though, for specific programs, the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant can be obtained and used for those expenses. For more about the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant, click here.

  • Georgia's SALT loan for technical college students carries one percent interest and can be used for college-related expenses, including tuition, books and fees.  Best of all, the loan will be completely forgiven if the student graduates with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. The financial aid office at your local TCSG college can provide more details and help you with your application.

  • Because of changes to the law, if you lost the HOPE Grant between 2011 and 2013 because of the past requirement to maintain a 3.0 GPA, you may be eligible to regain the Grant immediately, as long as your HOPE Grant GPA was 2.0 or higher at the end of your last term of attendance. It is important that you contact your TCSG college for more information.

  • Contact your local TCSG college for more information. The Georgia Student Finance Commission website also provides more information on the HOPE program and other financial assistance at www.gacollege411.org.

Click here to view a chart that summarizes the HOPE Program and other state assistance, including the SIWDG..