College costs: Watch your wallet. College graduates saddled with debt. HOPE won’t end, but it will change. Recent headlines like these from newspapers and online news sources underscore the rapid increase in higher education costs. Additionally, benefits have been reduced for popular, but financially troubled scholarship programs, such as Georgia’s HOPE scholarship.
The Facts about College Costs
According to the College Board, which helps prepare students for college through various readiness programs:
- Nearly half (47 percent) of all full-time undergraduate students are attending a four-year college with published charges of less than $9,000 per year for tuition and fees.
- Private four-year colleges costing $35,000 or more in annual tuition and fees sometimes have bigger endowments and more grant aid available, which may mean you can get more financial help to attend that institution.
- Tuition and fees for two-year colleges average $2,713.
The table below shows the estimated cost for Georgia residents to attend the University of Georgia or Georgia Institute of Technology during the 2011-2012 school year.
Many Georgians have relied on the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship to defray college costs. However, rising enrollment and tuition expenses necessitated changes to the program. Beginning this fall, students with a 3.0 GPA still will receive money from HOPE, but the amount will be tied to lottery revenue and no longer covers 100 percent of tuition expenses. In addition, money for books and fees has been eliminated. Students at Georgia State University, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia will receive a maximum benefit of $6,363 for every two semesters under the new HOPE rules.
In addition, Georgia legislators recently created the Zell Miller Scholarship, which falls under the HOPE umbrella. It’s designed for students who graduate from an eligible high school with a 3.7 GPA and who score at least 26 on the ACT or 1200 on the reading and math portions of the SAT. Recipients must maintain a 3.3 GPA in college to maintain this scholarship, which pays 100 percent of the standard tuition charges at an eligible public college. The program doesn’t cover fees and book costs.
Education Planning for Your Family
The information contained in this article is intended for Georgia residents. However, these types of changes are occurring nationally. Many other states offer similar programs. Please contact a Redwood Wealth advisor if you’d like to discuss or review education planning for your children. We’ll provide a customized strategy that fits your unique situation and goals regardless of where you reside.