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Georgia House OKs bill to overhaul HOPE
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Gov. Nathan Deal's HOPE scholarship changes passed the House today, just a week after House Bill 326 was filed.

The scholarship, which traditionally covered college tuition for students who earned a 3.0 grade point average in high school, will now be tied to revenue from the Georgia Lottery. The bill will award the scholarship at 90 percent of current tuition rates.

The bill passed 152-22.

"Yes, there are disagreements about how this should be handled, but we've accomplished what the governor set out to do," said Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who introduced the bill to the House as one of Deal's floor leaders. "Look forward and beyond where we're at right now. This is not for any specific group. This is for all of Georgia, and you have the opportunity today to say you are standing with HOPE and education."

Those who graduate high school with a 3.7 GPA and 1200 SAT score would see all tuition covered under a new Zell Miller Scholarship, named after the former governor who created the program.

Students would be required to maintain a 3.3 in college to keep the full award. The original bill required a 3.5, but an amendment was approved this morning to lower it following concerns from that it was too high. The average GPA of the Georgia Tech Honors Program is 3.34.

"The real crux of the matter here is that tuition is increasing, and we can't fund enough money to match the increase in tuition," Rep. James Mills, R-Gainesville, said in support of the bill. "When I get a paper that tells me certain universities have increased tuition 25 percent in the biggest downturn in the state's economy, I say they need to get a dose of reality."

This story will be updated.