ATLANTA — Households in counties with the lowest median incomes receive a smaller share of state lottery-funded HOPE college assistance than households in counties with the highest median incomes, even though they contribute more to proceeds that fund the program, according to a recent report released by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.
GBPI’s report, “HOPE for Whom? For Some it Doesn’t Pay to Play the Lottery,” found the opposite is true for households with the highest incomes. They get the largest share of HOPE dollars but spend a smaller share of their income on the Lottery, the GBPI report concludes.
“Georgia students and families are feeling the impact of declining state support for higher education in the form of significant increases in tuition and fees.” GBPI policy analyst Cedric Johnson said. “Ensuring access to a post-secondary education for all qualified Georgia students must be a priority for policymakers.”
GBPI is a nonpartisan nonprofit that researches and educates about the state’s fiscal and economic health.
According to the report at gbpi.org, average lottery spending per adult in the counties with the lowest median incomes is $831 per adult. In the counties with the highest median incomes, the average is $419 per adult, and the statewide average is $500 per adult.
However, the report also states that the counties with the highest median incomes receive 58 percent of total HOPE dollars.
Also according to the report, financial hardship is the No. 1 reason students leave school early. Tuition and fees in Georgia have increased by 87 percent since 2005. By 2020, an estimated 61 percent of all jobs in the state will require a certificate or degree.
“HOPE must be invested in a way that yields the greatest return to college students and the state,” GBPI Executive Director Alan Essig said. “Maintaining a broad reach for the HOPE program is critical to boosting college graduation rates and promoting economic development throughout the state.”
According to gacollege411.org, the HOPE scholarship and grant program began in 1993 to financially assist students who are seeking a college degree. The program is funded entirely by the Georgia Lottery for Education.