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HOPE for military students may be on way
Governor gets bill to expand scholarship program
Al Williams Mag
Rep. Al Williams
Financial relief could be coming for military dependents planning to attend college in the near future, if legislation concerning the HOPE scholarship is signed into to law.
The General Assembly session ended Friday and now Gov. Sonny Perdue has 40 days to review and either sign or veto bills that were passed by both the House and the Senate during the session.
According to Perdue’s press secretary Chris Schrimpf, one of the bills sitting on the governor’s desk is House Bill 484.
HB 484 would waive residency requirements for military children who move into the state with their parents after graduating from high school, making them eligible for the HOPE scholarship, money to be used at any point in their college careers.
The bill zipped through both the House and the Senate last month, meeting no opposition.
Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, said HB 484 simply makes sense.
“Most people realize that these children are the children of those who are serving our country and they don’t have a say as to where they are going to school,” he said.
Under current statue, college students in military families are only eligible for the scholarship based on academic performance and whether the student graduated high school while his or her active-duty military parents were stationed in Georgia.
All other military dependents must have lived in Georgia for a least a year after graduation to apply for the scholarship.
If the new bill is signed, that will all change.
Monet Robinson, communications specialist with the Georgia Student Finance Commission, said it will allow flexibility for military students and their parents.
“A lot of these students and their parents were either from here or stationed in a different state or, vice versa, they were stationed in Georgia, but their home state was somewhere else,” she said. “What this will do is waive that residency requirement for that student and allow them to become eligible.”
HOPE is funded by Georgia Lottery sales and used by college students to pay for tuition, fees and books at Georgia’s public and private colleges and universities.
Williams said the signing of the bill will not create any added financial hardships for the state.
“Despite the economy, it seems like folks are playing the lottery more and more and looking for the big payday,” he said. “You won’t see a huge amount of difference, but it does include some people who have been excluded.”
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