The State Senate’s Higher Education Committee passed Senate Bill 496 establishing a needs based HOPE grant today.  Currently, the HOPE scholarship is based on merit, not need.  And, although there are currently over 8000 children on a waiting list for Georgia Pre-K, the program is supposed to be available to any family to wishes to enroll their 4 year-old.

SB 496 would establish a new program which would award small grants for college to families based on need as long as state lottery funds are available.

Providing needs-based grants for college has merit.  Yet, it concerns me that legislators are moving closer towards approving a new use of lottery funds at a time when costs of HOPE and pre-K already exceed lottery revenues, the demand for pre-K slots exceeds availability,  and the Governor has proposed cutting the Resource Coordinator Program which provides essential services that ensure school success to at-risk pre-K families.

Pre-K families in Georgia should not get whatever pennies are left in the lottery after HOPE and the new needs-based grant are funded.  Instead it is time for a re-examination of the goals, funding formulas and priorities of all programs funded by the Georgia Lottery.

Mindy Binderman, Director of Goverment Affairs and Advocacy