As budget cuts increase school tuition and expenses, the pressure is higher than ever to have the HOPE scholarship. The University Community Center is now offering A.I.M. for HOPE information sessions on how to obtain and preserve HOPE throughout college.

Last week, the first session was held in the UCC. “The information session consists of a presentation from a representative from Enrollment Services Center, Q & A time and a general financial aid overview.  We also introduce the mentors and give away door prizes,” said Katie Mosley, mentor and coordinator of the program. The information sessions will continue throughout the year to inform current or potential HOPE scholars.

Since the new HOPE scholarship advancements went into effect this fall, students are faced with the challenge of maintaining academic excellence for a funded education. The HOPE is limited and the standards have been raised. Last year, 202,961 students were awarded the scholarship. This year, the number of recipients has plummeted to 87,461. Scholarship changes were implemented last fall by Georgia legislation which eliminated benefits such as mandatory fees, $150 worth of book coverage and the amount financial aid given.

Many students are familiar with the fear of losing HOPE. The fears include not making the grades and graduating with debt. Senior Meagan Beatty has successfully kept HOPE throughout her college career but said it hasn’t been easy.

“After finishing core classes, the work load and advancement of my classes intensified. It became a struggle during college and the factor of accruing debt is a top concern,” said Beatty.

High school graduates and current college students must keep the required GPA at the end of every spring semester to sustain the scholarship. However, keeping HOPE is the hard part. Three out of ten students maintain the scholarship at an institution and very few earn it back.

A.I.M. for HOPE keeps students informed and mentored to meet their full potential. Mentors of the program lend useful strategies for students seeking or keeping the scholarship. “The information session gives students a chance to meet their A.I.M. for HOPE mentor,” said Mosley. “Our A.I.M. for HOPE program is a mentoring program that provides students with a mentor who has maintained HOPE for at least 2 years.  They are able to connect students with resources they need in order to keep or gain the HOPE scholarship.”

Many students are unaware of where they stand with HOPE and how to access academic help. “We encourage students to connect with their mentor early and ask for help as soon as they realize they are struggling in a class.  Students also do not realize when they can lose and regain HOPE.  If a student loses HOPE, they have to reach a checkpoint before they can regain it and they must have at least a 3.0 GPA at that checkpoint.  The information session covers this information so students aren’t left in the dark about the HOPE requirements,” said Mosley.

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