» By CHRIS COPPEDGE – ccoppedge@my.apsu.edu

For some students, the HOPE Scholarship is something of a beacon, lighting the way towards funding classes, but that might change with the current proposal to slice the funding in half for students who don’t quite measure up.

“The HOPE Lottery Scholarship funding program is being reviewed,” said Financial Aid Supervisor Jennifer Ellis. Evidently, the expenditures of the program have been outpacing the annual net proceeds.

As such, a “Lottery Stabilization Task Force” has been assembled in order to create a better policy and help maintain expenses.

They have proposed a “recommendation package” that is expected to pass into law and be fully established by the 2015-16 academic year. The first recommendation would make certain only students attending a four-year institution who meet both the GPA and ACT criteria for the HOPE would get the full award.

Students who only meet one of the criteria will receive half of the award. The current amount offered per academic year for students at a four-year institution can be up to $4,000.

Other recommendations in the “package” include providing $10 million in funding to the Tennessee Student Assistance Award program when the scholarship changes are implemented, increasing the General Shortfall required reserve from $50 million to $100 million and requiring the Comptroller to study the effectiveness of the HOPE Scholarship changes.

Currently, the HOPE Scholarship’s traditional component requires an entering freshman to have a minimum 21 ACT or overall weighted GPA of 3.0. This extends to home school graduates as well as GED applicants.

Nontraditional students must be Tennessee residents, be enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution and need to have completed a FAFSA form.

Students who received the full award for their first two years with only one criteria will continue to receive the full award in their third year.

The on-the-ground reactions seem surprisingly fair-minded. “I could see how it’s fair, because a lot of people only do one portion, yet get the whole reward,” said former student Joseph Sabinske.

Freshman Zach Scouten is of a similar mindset. “I did the bare minimum throughout high school, but I still put my best foot forward for the ACT,” Scouten said. “So how can you really judge who gets the full reward and who doesn’t?”

There is also a “HOPE Access Grant” for students at two-year institutions, according to the Tennessee State Board of Education’s website.

In order to receive this, students attending a four-year institution need an 18-20 score on the ACT and a 2.75 weighted GPA.

Supplements to the HOPE include the $1,500 Aspire Award, which students with a household income less than $36,000 can earn, or the General Assembly Merit of $1,000, which only students with a 3.75 GPA or 29 score on the ACT can receive.

For technical students, there is also the $2,000 Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant, which can go to any student who has enrolled in a TTC (Tennessee Technology Center), and can lead to eligibility for the HOPE within three years of completing a TTC program. TAS