The announcement said:
This will be a Rally for the Hope Scholarship and a Voter Registration. Everyone concerned about HOPE is invited. We will have guest speakers and will hear from those students and families affected by the current status of HOPE.
The featured speaker was Janice Barrocas of HOPE for Georgia, which is running a three year nonpartisan campaign to save HOPE scholarships.
Bikram Mohanty explained that there will be a shortfall of $270 million for the HOPE scholarships in 2012. Janice Barrocas pointed out there were really two HOPEs now: the other one being the Zell Miller scholarships. Bikram showed a map that illustrates that very few Zell Miller Scholarships go to south Georgia.
Janice Barrocas and Bikram Mohanty discussed that HOPE is funded by a lottery, and lottery funds are down in the recession. The blue line on the chart is deposits from the lottery into the HOPE program, the red line is expenditures, and the green line, dropping rapidly, is reserves at the end of the year.
Janice Barrocas noted that
The end users of this program were not at the table
when the recent HOPE changes were passed. Especially students mostly found out when they got stuck with bigger bills they had to pay. Students and their families may still be too polite to mention they have financial troubles, but it's time to break the culture of silence when it's a choice between the family eating or the student going to school. Betty Marini pointed out students loans add up to $1 trillion dollars, which is a huge drag on the economy.
Matt Flumerfelt observed that there is a push for divestiture and privatization these days, and he wondered if the silence around the quick passage of the recent HOPE changes wasn't because it was a money grab for the lottery funds.
Tech school HOPE is grants, and most tech school students get them. If HOPE went away, the lottery would