In the state of Georgia, high school students have access to one of the best scholarship opportunities in the country – the HOPE Scholarship program. HOPE Scholarships are Georgia's unique scholarship and grant program, that rewards the best high school students in the state with financial assistance to cover tuition at eligible public and private colleges and technical schools in Georgia. The HOPE scholarship program, which stands for Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally, is funded entirely by revenue from the Georgia Lottery.
There are several ways to be eligible for financial assistance from the HOPE Program:
- Graduate from a HOPE-eligible high school in Georgia with at least a 3.0 GPA,
- Graduate from either a non-eligible high school, or complete a Georgia home study program, or earn a GED, and also score above the 80th percentile in either the SAT or ACT before completing 30 credit hours of college-level coursework,
- Graduate from either a non-eligible high school, or complete a Georgia home study program, and earn a 3.0 cumulative GPA or above after attempting 30 credit hours of college-level coursework, or
- Earn a 3.0 GPA at the college level after attempting either 30, 60, or 90 semester hours, regardless of high school graduation status.
Additionally, HOPE funding requires the recipient to be a Georgia resident, a U.S. citizen, properly registered with the Selective Service, less than seven years removed from high school graduation, up-to-date, and not in default, with student loan programs, and in compliance with the Georgia Drug-Free Postsecondary Education Act of 1990.
HOPE Scholarship recipients can fall out of compliance with the Drug-Free Postsecondary Education Act if they are convicted of a felony level drug offense. Such a conviction will result in HOPE funding being revoked for the semester during which the conviction happened, as well as the semester following the conviction. Additionally, prison inmates are ineligible for HOPE Program funding. Once released, however, former inmates may apply for, and receive HOPE Program funding, if eligible. Early reinstatement of HOPE Scholarships following a felony drug conviction is not a possibility.
Because of the HOPE Program's requirement that recipients comply with Georgia's Drug-Free Postsecondary Education Act, a drug conviction can severely impact your ability to get financial assistance for college. While only a fourth conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is regarded as a felony in Georgia, DUI stops often lead to other charges, as they can give rise to probable cause for police to conduct a car search. This search can lead to drug possession charges, which are nearly all felony-level offenses. In Georgia, only the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor, and even this misdemeanor charge comes with up to a year behind bars, which would put a hold on HOPE funding. Felony-level drug convictions, on the other hand, come with a minimum of a year of jail time.
A college education is not something that everyone can get, and financial assistance, especially through such a generous program as the HOPE Scholarship program, is something to protect. Do not let a DUI charge touch your HOPE Scholarship. Call the law offices of Richard S. Lawson at (404) 816-4440.