By Adam Waldorf and Randy Schafer – Campus News Editor
Students from colleges across Georgia, including GPC, gathered in protest outside the Georgia Capitol March 2, in response to the potential passage of House Bill 326.
Voices blared over a megaphone proclaiming the bill an injustice to Georgia students. Students chanted “Shame on you,” “Keep HOPE alive,” and “Save our HOPE,” with posters and fists in the air. “I’m not getting money from my parents, they don’t have anything,” said University of Georgia freshman, Rose Dasher. “For someone working, going to class, and trying to fit in homework, $2,000 extra is an unimaginably huge amount. I know it’s not a lot for someone like them, but for someone like me it’s a lot… They are proposing the worst possible fix for the budget crisis.”
Among the crowd of over 200 students and general public, members of the Clarkston SGA were present. Vice President Antonio Molina, met with Georgia State University students and members of the House of Representatives, to discuss components of HB 326 and have questions clarified.
“We’re trying to get as much support as we can to at least get them to edit this bill,” said Inter-Club Council Chair, Guled Abdilahi. “We need more time to think about this bill… If they didn’t introduce this bill last week and so fast, we wouldn’t have had to rally so quickly.
Governor Nathan Deal’s proposal has passed the state House of Representatives but not the state Senate. If passed, the bill would go into effect on July 1, 2011. Provisions of the bill include:
* A special class of student called the Zell Miller Scholar would be created. They would receive a scholarship making up the difference between the HOPE award amount and the tuition amount. These are the eligibility requirements for Zell Miller Scholars:
• High school students with a 3.7 GPA and a 1200 on the SAT or a 26 on the ACT
• College freshman with a 3.5 GPA
• College sophomores, juniors and seniors with a 3.3 GPA
* The scholarship award would be cut to 90% of the 2010-2011 school year tuition for students that are not Zell Miller Scholars. If tuition is increased in the 2011-2012 school year, the award would be worth less than 90% of tuition.
* Students currently receiving the full amount of the HOPE scholarship who did not know about the new requirements would not be grandfathered in. All students will have to meet the requirements to be Zell Miller Scholars in order to receive full coverage of tuition.
* It would completely eliminate the book allowance and coverage of mandatory fees for all HOPE recipients.
* It would cut pre-K program school days from 6.5 hours to 4 hours a day.
* Students would have seven years of eligibility for the scholarship after high school graduation. There is an exception for students with military service. Students who received the HOPE scholarship during 2010-2011 will only be eligible until June 30, 2015.