Report: Wide Racial Disparities in Georgia Scholarships

September 15, 2020

A new study found racial inequities in what students receive scholarships that cover the most tuition costs for college in Georgia.

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute analyzed the state's HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship and Zell Miller Scholarship. The HOPE Scholarship covers up to 94 percent of tuition costs for students with a 3.0 GPA in high school who continue to earn a 3.0 GPA in college. The Zell Miller Scholarship covers 100 percent of tuition costs for students who achieve a 3.7 GPA in high school and either receive a high score on the SAT or ACT or achieve class valedictorian or salutatorian and then maintain a 3.3 GPA in college.

The institute found that 44 percent of undergraduate students received one of these scholarships. Recipients were most likely to be Asian American or white students, while Black and Native American students were least likely to receive the funds.

Black students made up only 6 percent of recipients for the Zell Miller Scholarship, despite making up 10 percent of the total undergraduate student population.

Students from families with higher incomes were also more likely to get these awards, the report found. Seven percent of Zell Miller Scholarship recipients have family incomes under $15,000, while 31 percent of recipients have family incomes of $120,000 or more.

University of Georgia students got twice the amount of HOPE Scholarship money as students in the entire Technical College System of Georgia, the report also found.

The report recommends that the state fund need-based scholarships that were authorized by the Georgia General Assembly in 2018 but have yet to receive funding. It also recommends expanding the HOPE Career Grant, which specifically provides tuition benefits to students pursuing certain fields at technical colleges, to all technical college fields.

Finally, the report says the state should maximize lottery funds by increasing the percentage of ticket sales turned over for education and make a plan to spend or convert excess reserve money into an endowment for education.

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