Jan 8 2013
01:00 pm

The KNS has an interesting article about the new law passed in 2011 that cuts off Hope Scholarship funds beyond the minimum number of credit hours needed for a degree. The young woman in the article is losing scholarship funding in her senior year because she has a double major and took extra classes. Seems like that ought to be encouraged rather than discouraged.

The article says Maryville's Sen. Doug Overbey, one of our more reasonable Republicans, tried to fix it before and will try again in this session. His proposal is to pay for eight full semesters regardless of the number of credit hours taken.

Moreover, the article says that the law was made retroactive for anyone who started college in 2009. That hardly seems fair. In the case of the young woman in the article and others in her situation, if they had known of this requirement in 2009 perhaps they could have planned accordingly.

It seems like in addition to Sen. Overbey's proposal, the law should be changed to only apply to freshmen entering college in 2012 and beyond.

PREVIOUSLY: Tamara Shepherd warned us...

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Thanks for feeling my pain, Randy...

Sat down and wrote a $4,700 check for my daughter's eighth semester a week before Christmas. She still has a 4.0, but TN cut off her basic Hope scholarship AND her General Assembly Merit Scholarship (for ACT scores in 30's), both--to give her "merit" scholarships to students with lower grades and/or lower ACT scores for up to ten semesters.

And that comparison of student "merit" isn't the strongest one I could have made. Take a look at the lottery's Helping Heroes Grant, for vets. Call me a fascist pig, but I don't give a flip if you're Gandhi: If you earn five D's in five classes, you DO NOT deserve my kid's "merit" scholarship money.

The whole freakin' scholarship program has become a political plum to be divied up amongst legislators courting votes.

And the only person madder about it than I am appears to be the program's creator, Steve Cohen.

gonzone's picture

It was never about the

It was never about the scholarships anyway, it was about legalizing gambling. Scholarships was just the sweetener.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Since you've linked that year-old thread, I should apologize for having taken a while to understand who the culprits were in that vote.

Unfortunately, they weren't the Republicans I originally fingered.

As we now know, that vote was really a Dem vote (minus Steve Cohen, who was by then in the U. S. House), from legislators concerned about "access" to higher ed.

But what good is access to the ill-prepared student destined to fail?

From the get-go, half of all frosh have lost their Hope scholarships in the first year, to the tune of $47 million annually.

And not only do these ill-prepared kids lose their scholarships, they generally drop out, as well, suffering no small degree of humiliation.

Sure, we should concern ourselves with students' access to higher ed.

But we need to spend on an intervention that takes place earlier, to ensure that more students graduate high school truly prepared for college.

That's the "access" Steve Cohen (and I) wants to see.

bizgrrl's picture

From the get-go, half of all

From the get-go, half of all frosh have lost their Hope scholarships in the first year, to the tune of $47 million annually.

That's the way it has been forever. Weed them out the first year. I guess now the problem is the Hope scholarship money spent on those one year students.

Mello's picture

My kidlet

Apparently my kidlet who also started FT in the fall of 2009 did not have his maximum credit hours of 128 at the end of last semester so he did get his HOPE/GAMS money for this semester. But, it was damn close....

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I almost wish I hadn't read those comments on the story at the KNS site. Too many of those folks still aren't following the math, which is (for students starting college in Fall 2009 or later; note that higher $6000/yr scholarship went into effect Jan 1):

Kid A:

Finishes high school with a 3.0 GPA/21 on the ACT
Takes 12 hours per semester/earns 2.75 college GPA
Gets 7 semesters Hope scholarship at $2,000/semester and...
Gets 3 semesters Hope scholarship at $3,000/semester so...
Gets 10 semesters funding totaling $23,000

Kid B:

Finishes high school with over 4.0 GPA/ACT in the 30's
Takes 16-20 hours per semester/earns 4.0 college GPA
Gets 7 semesters Hope scholarship at $2000/semester, only
Gets 7 semesters funding totaling $14,000

Will somebody explain to ArmyDad at the KNS site???

Tell him the mister's 401(k) doesn't have any match, too, will ya???

bizgrrl's picture

Sounds like kid b should have

Sounds like kid b should have taken their time. Odd way to fund higher education.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I might have mentioned, too, that "Kid B" earned that high school GPA and ACT score due to her mom and dad paying out-of-pocket for her high school coursework, namely Advanced Placement courses. The school system sure as heck didn't pay for it.

KCS is no longer soaking parents with the costs of AP textbooks (up to $200 per, during my older kid's high school years), but here in Knox County parents are still paying for AP course fees, supplemental texts, each course's Cliff/Barron AP exam study guide, each $85 AP course exam fee, etc.*

Five years ago, costs per AP course were sometimes running over $300 per, now they're more like $150 per.

In addition to the greater funding he gets from the lottery scholarship, "Kid A" saw all the costs of his high school education covered, too.

Why are smart kids presumed to be rich? Some of us aren't.


* Many TN school systems benefit from foundations and/or local tax dollars covering these costs, so that parents of high-achieving students don't spend their kids' college funds on their high school coursework. Jim Ayres' foundation, for example, covers these costs for 14 Middle TN school systems, I think it is, but not for Knox.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Go, Mocs???

fischbobber's picture

Go, Mocs???

Why are smart kids presumed to be rich? Some of us aren't.

I feel your pain.

UTC has way better t-shirts than UTK. But who really wants to root for a team whose mascot is a shoe? I'd rather have the scholarship money.

bizgrrl's picture

Moreover, the article says

Moreover, the article says that the law was made retroactive for anyone who started college in 2009. That hardly seems fair.

This part I do not understand. How could they make it retroactive affecting students with educational plans that did not have to consider this funding requirement for three years?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


How could they make it retroactive...

Richard Beeler didn't think they could.

He thought they couldn't for the same reason that the county's term limits ballot measure had to "look forward."

In that piece of legislation, the clock started in 1998, such that even officeholders who'd served 20 and 30 years were able to count a win in 1998 as their first term in office and a subsequent win in 2002 as their second term. They were not barred from running for office again until 2006, you'll recall, which would have been considered their third terms.

Anyway, I spoke with his and Sen. Doug Overby's law firm when this thing passed in 2011, but they said they couldn't handle any potential class action because of Overby's involvement in the legislation.

They sent me to another attorney, but I had to abandon the effort due to the degree of difficulty it was going to pose on my daughter.

She was over age 18, of course, so any action filed would have been her's, not her dad's and mine (in spite of our cutting the checks for her tuition). With her attending school out-of-town, carrying overload hours (still), and working part-time, it just looked like too much to pile on her plate.

If I could have stood as plaintiff, I would have.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Oops--Mello and her kidlet advise that I misunderstood the info at the lottery scholarship website (and they tell me the website was updated just today to clarify details as to what amounts are now awarded when under the Hope program).

That "new" Hope amount of $6,000/year, which I indicated above represents an increase to $3,000/semester, isn't a per-semester increase at all.

The Hope amount remains just $2,000/semester.

It is awarded in amounts up to $6,000/year only if a student attends college over the summer semester, which you'll recall the Hope began paying for effective with this 2011 legislation.

Students attending college just fall and spring semesters will continue to receive just $4,000/year.

(I told you the change was effective January 1 because I knew my student received only the standard $2,000/semester amount last August, for fall 2012.)

In the mathamatical scenario I laid out above, then, "Kid A" is awarded $20,000 total over ten semesters, while "Kid B" is awarded $14,000 total over seven semesters.

So sorry, but what do I know about how much the Hope paid in December--since this household wasn't awarded a dime.

Rachel's picture

Just as a side note: I do

Just as a side note: I do not understand how anybody affords college these days. I am paying 4 times the amount for one 4 hour course than I paid for an entire year with a full course load my freshman year.

I know I'm old, and there's been inflation, but geez......

bizgrrl's picture

You're paying $3,600 for one

You're paying $3,600 for one 4 hour undergraduate course?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I do not understand how anybody affords college these days.

Personally, I reflect on this phenomenon in pretty much the same way I reflect on the "oppressive mortgage" phenomenon.

You are aware, of course, of my somewhat tight-assed opinion that some portion of the housing collapse was due to the fact that so many homeowners had bitten off more than they could chew.

I don't mean to suggest that these same homeowners were not also preyed upon by the banking industry, of course.

In the same way, I tend to think that many students have bitten off more than they can chew in opting to finance their day-to-day living expenses for dormitory and meal card expenses (which increase in tandem with tuition and fees costs, every time), when those expenses might also have been avoided altogether had students unable to pay these costs up front simply opted to "scale down," namely by living at home with Mom and Dad and commuting to a local college.

I don't mean to discount the impact of skyrocketing tuition and fees (and dormitory and meal card) increases, then, but rather to suggest that penny-pinching parents are wise to respond to that phenomenon by scaling down, rather than by financing what they really can't afford.

I will concede that this household was unable to scale down, however.

When we realized that the bottom was about to drop out of our student's financial aid package at UT-Chattanooga, I promptly got on the phone with UT-Knoxville to determine the viability of our daughter moving back to Knoxville and finishing off that last year as a local commuter student at UTK.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a viable option. The two education programs at the two UT campuses are so dramatically different--UTK's is a five year program and UTC's is a four year program, for starters--that a transfer back home would have actually cost us more. Our daughter would have had to attend college at UTK for more than a year longer than she'd need to attend at UTC, would have had to pay UTK's higher tuition and fees costs, and still would have been without these scholarships she'd received her first seven semesters at UTC.

I'm therefore sure other families have found themselves in a similar conundrum, unable to respond in any way except to keep on keepin' on.

(FYI, I just dragged out our daughter’s very first UTC statement from August 2009 in order to calculate the percentage increase in total costs there up through the December 2012 statement we just paid. It's a 21% increase over the eight semesters--and UTC's costs have not risen over this period so much as UTK's have.)

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