Tag Archives: scholarships

AP on the Quest to Cut Lottery Scholarships

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Psychology student Jay MacDonnchadh says a plan that would cut some students’ lottery scholarships in half is a bad idea.
“If it wasn’t for the lottery scholarship, I would have had to work my way up through community college,” said the University of Memphis senior.
MacDonnchadh, 21, is among hundreds of Tennessee students who depend on the scholarship, also called the HOPE Scholarship.
A proposal from a panel of state lawmakers would reduce by 50 percent the lottery scholarship awards for students who do not meet both standardized testing and high school grade requirements.
Right now, students can get a scholarship worth $4,000 for each of four years if they either earn a 3.0 grade point average in high school or score a 21 on their ACT college entrance exam.
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.

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Legislator Task Force Recommends Cutting Some Lottery Scholarships

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A special legislative panel that recommends cutting some students’ college scholarships in half says the move could save Tennessee as much as $17 million a year.
Members of the bipartisan Lottery Stabilization Task Force — comprised of lawmakers, the state’s constitutional officers and higher education officials — voted unanimously Tuesday to reduce by 50 percent the lottery scholarship awards for students who do not meet both the standardized testing and high school grade requirements.
Right now, 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.

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Dean Pitches More Use of Lottery Money in High School

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean will ask state legislators to remove financial barriers so more students can take college courses while in high school, according to The Tennessean.
State Rep. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, the House Education chairman, said lawmakers would support Dean’s bill because they want more high school students in dual enrollment and more Tennesseans with degrees, but such measures always come down to money.
Dean’s plan may ask to realign existing lottery dollars to fully cover tuition costs for high schoolers who want to take college classes. The courses are offered more cheaply to high school students while getting them into college earlier, but many still struggle to pay.
During the 2010-11 school year, more than 16,000 Tennessee high school students took dual enrollment courses. Tennessee lottery funds covered $7.2 million of those costs. Eligible high school students can take up to eight college courses in their junior and senior years, with lottery-based HOPE Scholarships paying a portion of dual enrollment tuition for students whose ACT score and grade-point average qualify them.
But if students use the money in high school, the amount paid for dual enrollment will be deducted from their first year in college, which could be a discouragement, officials said.

Kelsey Revises Voucher Bill

News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN), October 11, 2011 – State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) today announced he will push passage of legislation to give low income students in Shelby, Davidson, Knox, and Hamilton counties an “Equal Opportunity Scholarship” to attend the school of their choice. The education reform measure is the 2nd in a series of announcements by Kelsey in his “12 for ’12” initiative, a list comprised of 12 bills he will introduce for the 2012 session of the Tennessee General Assembly, which begins in January.
“Equal Opportunity Scholarships provide impoverished children with hope for a better education and choice in the school they attend,” said Senator Brian Kelsey. “Children should not be forced to attend a failing school just because they live in a certain neighborhood. Equal Opportunity Scholarships will allow all children to receive the quality education they deserve.”
Senate Bill 2135, filed today, is similar to Sen. Kelsey’s bill that was approved by the State Senate in April. The House Education Subcommittee decided to study the bill further before acting on the bill in January. Kelsey said the main difference in the new bill is the addition of an accountability measure to ensure that schools receiving the scholarships will be measuring academic success. He added this provision in response to suggestions from many community voices.
“The bill is gaining new supporters every day,” said Sen. Kelsey. “I look forward to passing this legislation through the House of Representatives next year.”
Senate Bill 2135 applies to students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch in the four largest counties in the state. For a family of four, that would include students in households with incomes below $42,000 per year. The scholarships would be in the amount of half the money that state and local school systems spend on each child, which amounts to $5,400 per year in Memphis City Schools, $4,200 in Shelby County Schools, $5,400 in Nashville Schools, $4,600 in Chattanooga Schools, and $4,300 in Knoxville Schools. The scholarship money could be used to attend any school that parents choose, including parochial schools, independent schools, or other public schools within the district if space is available.
In the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, students receiving the scholarship graduated at a rate 12-20% higher than those low-income students who lost the lottery to receive a scholarship. Also, twenty-one of the twenty-two empirical studies of the effects of opportunity scholarships on public schools have shown that public school student scores increase 3-15% when opportunity scholarships are offered.
“We now have solid data from other states showing this program works to significantly boost student achievement,” added Sen. Kelsey. “That’s why so many other states are now passing this law.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is set to release his version of the bill for that state later today. A similar bill was enacted in May in Indiana, and huge expansions of the program passed earlier this year in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and Washington, D.C.
“This train is moving. It’s time for Tennesseans to jump on board,” concluded Sen. Kelsey.

Lottery Scholarship Legislating Looms

A fight is brewing in the Tennessee legislature over how to tighten eligibility for the state’s lottery-funded scholarships in order to cut the program’s costs, according to Richard Locker.
A special committee of state senators and higher-education officials has begun examining the first of several policy options to stabilize the program’s finances, which are running annual deficits of about $21 million.
They include raising the academic requirements, cutting off students from upper-income families and reducing the size of the grants.
Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, chairwoman of the Senate Lottery Stabilization Task Force, said the panel will make its recommendations by Dec. 1. The full legislature takes up the issue in its 2012 session. No changes are likely to go into effect until the 2012-13 school year or later.
The goal is to tailor a plan to cut spending by $22 million a year, just over the shortfall between what the Lottery generates for education and the amount spent on the student grants, primarily the basic $4,000-a-year Hope Scholarship.

House Democrats: Cutting Sales Tax on Food, More College Scholarships Top Wish List

News release from House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE -Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh and the House Democratic Caucus filed a bill Thursday to allocate any surplus state revenues to cutting sales taxes on food and providing for need-based college scholarships.
“When the state is taking in more money than needed, as we’ve seen over the last few months, then this money needs to go back to Tennesseans not into the state’s pocket book,” said Fitzhugh (D-Ripley). “I and my colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus plan to push this bill forward in January when the Legislature returns to Nashville.”
The bill says that “surplus revenue” is defined as any amount of state revenue generated from sales & use taxes beyond budgeted estimates.
Each April, the Commissioner of Finance & Administration, along with the Commissioner of Revenue, would certify the exact amount of surplus revenue the state has collected for the current fiscal year. The Commissioners would then notify the Governor, Lt. Governor & Speaker of the House.
Out of the certified surplus, half of the amount would be placed in a reserve account for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation for the purpose of need-based scholarships. The following fiscal year, the remaining half of surplus revenue would be used to adjust down the sales tax rate on food & food ingredients for human consumption.
“The current sales tax rate on food in Tennessee is 5.5 percent,” Fitzhugh said. “Tennessee has a revenue surplus. This money belongs to the people and should be used to their benefit. This will help put food on the table for working families and stimulate the economy.
“Arkansas has a two percent sales tax on food. Kentucky has none.”
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For the academic year 2011-2012, the University of Tennessee raised tuition anywhere from 9.9-15 percent. This is on top of a 9 percent increase from academic year 2010-2011.
For academic year 2011-2012, the Tennessee Board of Regents raised tuition anywhere from 8.8-11 percent. This is on top of a 5-11 percent increase from academic year 2010-2011
“Families are hurting in this recession and it’s getting harder to send our kids to college. As a result more and more students are qualifying for need-based scholarships through the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation; we need to pay for as many scholarships as we can,” Fitzhugh said.
State Representatives who have agreed to co-sponsor the bill with Leader Fitzhugh are Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory), Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington), Rep. Lois Deberry (D-Memphis), Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville), Rep. Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis), Rep. Gary Moore (D-Joelton), Rep. Janis Sontany (D-Nashville), Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville), Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar), Rep. Mary Pruitt (D-Nashville), Rep. Mike McDonald (D-Portland), Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis), Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) and Rep. Tommie Brown (D-Chattanooga).

New Lottery Scholarship Limits Have Some Students Unhappy

A part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s lottery scholarship legislation (HB2010) has some University of Tennessee students unhappy, reports Megan Boehnke. While allowing scholarship recipients to collect money while going to summer school, it also imposed a ceiling of 120 credit hours on what the scholarship will cover.
UT estimates that 2,200 third-year students systemwide could potentially have trouble graduating within the new 120-hour limit.
“The rules have changed in the middle of the game,” said Tamara Shepherd, who fears she will be left to foot the bill when her daughter’s scholarship expires. “They’re two years into a degree, thinking they have X number of years left.”
The legislation, which passed this month, is intended to allow students the flexibility of using HOPE money in the summer, but to offset the costs, the state is capping the number of credit hours students can take.
The 120-hour limit is the minimum amount of credits needed for nearly all degrees at UT and other public schools. An exception to the cap is made for students in programs that require more credits, such as engineering and architecture.

Bill Revising Lottery Scholarships Approved

From Richard Locker:
The Tennessee legislature made two changes in the state’s lottery scholarship program today – allowing the scholarships for summer school for the first time and limiting their use to 120 hours of academic credit in most cases.
The changes are effective for students who received their first Hope scholarships in the fall of 2009 and thereafter.
“I think this is a step in the right direction. It encourages students to move at a faster pace,” said state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, the bill’s Senate sponsor.
The Senate approved the bill 27-1 this afternoon and sent it to Gov. Bill Haslam, who applauded the bill’s passage and will sign it into law. Haslam proposed the measure (HB2010) allowing the lottery-funded scholarships for summer school, and the legislature added the 120-hour limit to deal with a deficit between lottery proceeds and the costs of the scholarships.
Lawmakers had also considered raising the high school grade-point average required to qualify for Hope scholarships, from 3.0 to 3.2 but it appears that measure won’t pass this year.
Senate Democratic Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis said the 120 hour limit will mean some students will exhaust their lottery scholarships before obtaining undergraduate degrees. He said the average Tennessee public university student graduates with 133 hours of credit.
See also the News Sentinel report, HERE, which focuses on the 120-hour limit.

TN Lottery Passes $2 Billion Mark in Funding Education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee lottery has surpassed $2 billion in funds raised to support education-related programs in the state.
Lottery officials made the announcement Thursday, saying more than 100,000 students have received awards to higher education institutions in the state this year.
A billboard campaign will begin soon to mark the achievement.
The state lottery began selling tickets in 2004 after voters approved the sales in a referendum.

House, Senate on Different Tracks With Lottery Scholarships

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to make it more difficult for Tennessee students to obtain lottery scholarships may end up being studied by a task force over the summer, said the measure’s Senate sponsor.
Gov. Bill Haslam, who has made education reform a top priority during his first term, has not included such legislation in his agenda.
Currently, students need a grade point average of 3.0 or a score of 21 on the ACT to qualify for the $4,000 annual scholarship at four-year schools.
Under a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Harry Brooks of Knoxville that’s advancing in the House (HB13), those requirements would bump up to a 3.1 GPA or a 22 on the ACT for students graduating high school after June 30, 2014. And in the following year, the standards would rise to a 3.25 GPA or a 23 on the ACT.

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