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Enrollment at Georgia's technical colleges drops by 12,000 students, leaders blame reduced scholarship funding

 
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
After three years of record enrollment, the number of students attending Georgia's technical colleges dropped by more than 12,000 this fall and leaders say a reduced HOPE scholarship is partly to blame.

Technical College System of Georgia officials are still analyzing the data. But with about 75 percent of the system's students receiving HOPE, the state-funded scholarship program's influence can not be underestimated.

Lawmakers overhauled HOPE last spring, decreasing the aid students receive to keep the program viable for future recipients. Tens of thousands of 4-year college students arrived on campus this fall on the hook for hundreds of dollars in tuition, books and mandatory fees HOPE once covered. Now, the reduction in HOPE benefits are being felt on technical college campuses.

Technical colleges charge $75 a credit and HOPE provides $60.75. While the out-of-pocket expense may seem small, technical college students tend to be older adults with families to support.

"Once students got the bill and saw what they had to come up with some didn't have the money and it scared them off," Commissioner Ron Jackson said Tuesday. "To be honest, I thought we would have had a bigger decline."
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