HOPE Scholarship may change

Possible changes regarding financial aid for Fall 2011 has had the Financial Aid Office on their toes the past few weeks. Lester McKenzie, Financial Aid director, and his assistant director, Adriane King, have requested changes from Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation that are now being considered.

“We had the third largest count of students in the state receiving the HOPE Scholarship,” McKenzie said.

If the new proposed legislation is implemented, both McKenzie and King believe that most of the changes would be for the benefit of the students. While it still remains to be seen what passes, the proposed changes are interesting to consider.

The 4,789 Tech students who receive the HOPE Scholarship would benefit from this proposal, as well as other changes TSAC hopes to make to financial aid and academic school year.

TSAC would like to offer the HOPE Scholarship for a Bachelor of Arts for 10 full-time semesters, which equals four years and two summers, extending the original four-year definition. Students would continue to receive $2,000 per semester.

With the ability to receive money from the HOPE Scholarship, students living in the Upper Cumberland region wishing to take summer courses at a university can attend Tech, a school closer to home.

“Lottery changes would have a tremendous impact on students to go to school during the summer,” McKenzie said.

Another idea proposed by Financial Aid is to change when benchmarks are checked for the HOPE Scholarship.

Instead of checking benchmarks every 24-credit hours to make sure students are keeping the 3.0 grade point average requirements to receive to HOPE Scholarship, it has been proposed to check benchmarks only at the end of every spring term.

Benchmarks at the end of the spring term would allow student’s time to get their grades up if they are border-line on a 3.0 GPA and would be easier for students to remember.

Last Friday, McKenzie met with TSAC to discuss 20 proposed bills regarding changes to the HOPE Scholarship. McKenzie went into detail about a few of the bills.

The need based Aspire Aware grants $1,500 to students who have an income less than $36,000 a year. It has been proposed that the student will receive $750 in a grant and earn the remaining half through a work study like program.

The second bill McKenzie mentioned dealt with allowing AP courses to count toward the HOPE grade point average, meaning Fall 2011 incoming freshman that received AP credit in high school would not get the credited hours toward their HOPE Scholarship GPA.

Tech prides itself in having lower tuition and fees than other four year universities in its region.

“We work hard to pay our students,” King said.