Living with the Hope Scholarship
My older son is now a Junior at the University of Georgia, and I thought it would be interesting to look back at how the Hope Scholarship has affected his course of study now that he is at the half way point (I hope) of his undergraduate career.
First, was the choice of college. We knew that his grades and his SAT score, although above average, would not be sufficient to bring in scholarship dollars from out of state colleges or private colleges to the level that we were targeting. This was confirmed from a couple of offers from out of state schools. Good news is that he had choices. Along with the cost aspect of college choice goes the major selection. My son was firmly in the “undecided” camp with respect to college major. At the end of the day, the choice of “undecided” had more influence on deciding the choice of college than did anything else. My words to him were, “you can be undecided at the University of Georgia.” Given that he qualified for the Hope Scholarship, this made it an easy choice for him to make. Now that he is entering his junior year, he can choose to stay at UGA or transfer to another school if it helps him in his field of study. Fortunately, the Hope Scholarship rules allow students to move within the University System of Georgia schools and maintain eligibility for the funds from Hope to apply to tuition. Of course, none of it applies towards out of state schools.
The second affect that the Hope Scholarship has had on his first two years of college is his overall grade point average (GPA). My “deal” with him was that his main job was (and is) to maintain Hope eligibility. If he does this, I pay for any difference in tuition that Hope does not cover and I pay all other expenses for college: books, fees, transportation, food, living expenses, etc… It’s a great deal for him. It means that he does not need to get a job during his college semesters and can concentrate instead on his course of study. The result so far looks promising. He has maintained grades well above the Hope minimum. So, far so good… Nothing motivates a college student more than $$$. The bill from the school goes to his account. He sees the multi-thousands of dollars that he owes and the amount that is cleared due to funds from the Hope Scholarship. It is a great lesson for effort = reward.
The next benefit is occurring this summer. He is own a study abroad program in Rome, Italy. And, since the three classes that he is taking are University of Georgia classes, the Hope Scholarship funds are applied to the tuition for these classes. The cool thing about the Hope Scholarship is that it pays based on total hours taken and not when the hours are taken. It means that you can use funds toward tuition for classes taken in the Fall, Spring, May-mester, or summer. It doesn’t matter. The only rule in effect has to do with the total hours taken and the students GPA at those points. Hopefully, the GPA at the end of these 9 hours is not hindered by other aspects of being in Rome while taking the classes.
Lastly, the Hope Scholarship is vindication and recognition of 4 years of hard work during high school and continued effort during college. For some students, it is the first real world “black and white” experience. That is, you either qualified or you didn’t. There is no shade of gray. It was a goal for him during high school and continues to be a motivator as he starts the last half of his undergraduate career.