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Should rules for receiving HOPE lottery scholarship be changed?

Staff Report • Jan 30, 2012 at 8:06 AM

Tennessee legislators are considering a plan to cut some students’ college scholarships in half. Proponents say the move could save Tennessee’s HOPE lottery scholarship program as much as $17 million annually.

Members of the Lottery Stabilization Task Force has sent lawmakers a proposal to cut 50 percent of the lottery scholarship awards for students who do not meet both the standardized testing and high school grade requirements. Currently, students must either earn a 3.0 GPA or score a 21 on their ACT to qualify for a scholarship worth $4,000 for each of the four years.

Students who attend a four-year institution and meet one of the criteria would get a two-year award amount, under the plan. Those who meet one of the criteria and retain the award through year two would be eligible for a full award in year three.

Students who attend community colleges wouldn’t be affected by the proposed changes.

As the Associated Press reported last week, opponents of the plan say the changes are unnecessary since the lottery scholarship program has nearly $400 million in reserves and tickets for the Tennessee Lottery’s popular Powerball game have increased.

We just don’t need to go across the board slashing it and putting a lot of ... kids off it,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville. “I think the lottery is pretty sound.”

Lottery officials have announced strong second-quarter results for 2011 that raised $78.2 million for state education programs. Last month’s $114.2 million in gross sales were the highest of any December since the lottery’s inception in 2004.

We want to know what you think. Should the rules for receiving a college scholarship from the Tennessee lottery be changed?

Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

You also can go to www.johnsoncitypress.com to cast a vote in the online poll. Results of the poll, along with comments from readers, will appear on the Opinion page Feb. 8.

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