Counselor clarifies facts about HOPE Scholarship

By Julie Fann
star staff
jfann@starhq.com

   Though it's too early in the game to tell, lottery scholarship funds available to high school graduating seniors next fall may, down the road, peak student interest in raising grade point averages and ACT scores in pursuit of a college degree.
   Ann Rogers, Elizabethton High School guidance counselor, said Tuesday that misunderstanding about qualifications for the HOPE Scholarship has led to confusion and, on the part of some students who are pursuing a technical path, a bit of resentment.
   "Everything that we read in the paper says that students have to have a 3.0 GPA and a 19 ACT score. The 19 ACT is correct, but if they don't have it (a score of 19), then they must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and be on a university core path," Rogers said. "They don't have to have both the 19 (ACT score) and the 3.0 GPA."
   "We also have a little bit of concern about kids who are on the tech path who lack a second year of a foreign language and think they can make it up at the community college level, and they can't do that."
   According to the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program, entering college freshmen must have an unweighted 3.0 GPA on a college core path or score a 19 on the ACT and complete all college core classes to be eligible to receive HOPE Scholarship funds. To apply for all lottery scholarship money, including the Hope Scholarship, students and parents must also complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, available Jan. 1, 2004.
   Rogers said a college core curriculum includes four English credits; a minimum of algebra one, geometry, and algebra two; three sciences, including biology or an equivalent; social studies that includes U.S. history, world history, world geography, economics and government; two years of a foreign language; one year of fine arts; one wellness credit, and three electives.
   Students who graduated in the spring 2003 are eligible to receive the HOPE Scholarship in the fall 2004 by achieving a 2.75 cumulative GPA and 24 attempted hours in their first year of college.
   Those who have received home schooling must achieve a score of 23 on the ACT or 1060 on the SAT to receive the HOPE Scholarship, and GED applicants must have a GED score of 525 as well as a score of 19 on the ACT.
   The TSAC awards students who receive the HOPE Scholarship and plan to attend a four-year institution $3,000 and those attending two-year institutions $1,500. "If a student wants to use a lottery scholarship they must use it within six months of graduation," Rogers said, except those who graduated in spring 2003.
   To renew the HOPE Scholarship, students in their first year of college must achieve a 2.75 cumulative GPA and have 24 attempted credit hours, and in the second through fifth year must achieve a 3.0 cumulative GPA and have 24 attempted credit hours each year.
   Rogers said she is hopeful that lottery scholarship money will increase parental interest in student grades and test scores.
   "We hope it helps parents pay more attention to grades. I think it's a little bit early to tell right now, but when parents start to see that they can get $1,500 to $3,000 a year, depending on what type of school they choose to go to, then they will be more interested in it for their children."
   Other scholarships available through the TSAC include the General Assembly Merit Scholarship, the Need-Based Supplemental Award, the Tennessee Hope Access Grant, and the Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant.
   To receive the GAMS, a $1,000 supplement to the HOPE Scholarship, entering freshmen must achieve at least an unweighted 3.75 GPA, a college core unweighted 3.75 GPA, a score of 29 on the ACT (1280 SAT) and complete all required college core courses.
   Also a $1,000 HOPE supplement, the NBSA is awarded to students who meet HOPE requirements and whose parents' adjusted gross income is $36,000 or less.
   The Tennessee HOPE Access Grant is non-renewable and is a $2,000 award for four-year institutions and a $1,250 award for two-year institutions. Entering freshmen must have an unweighted 2.75 GPA, a college core unweighted 2.75 GPA, an 18 ACT (860 SAT) score and complete all college core courses. Also, parents' adjusted gross income must be $36,000 or less.
   To receive the WNTS Grant, students must be enrolled full-time in Tennessee Technology Centers (part-time enrollment is pro-rated) and cannot be prior recipients of the HOPE Scholarship. The award is in the amount of $1,250.
   For answers to questions, the public is urged to contact the TSAC at (615) 741-1346 or 1-800-342-1663. On the Web - www.state.tn.us/tsac