, D-Smyrna, who successfully lowered the grade point average requirement for the HOPE Grant and helped establish the Zell Miller Grant, is looking to provide students with additional financial assistance for college.
Evans said she plans on introducing a bill that would provide more assistance for students pursuing an associate degree to be funded by the lottery system, separate from the HOPE Scholarship and Grant program.
While the legislation is still in its infancy and needs fine tuning, Evans
said it is imperative the state stop "pricing students out of an education."
High school graduates with a 3.0 grade point average earn partial assistance from the scholarship program, which covers about 90 percent of school tuition depending on the availability of lottery funds, Evans
Students who have a 3.7 GPA and scored at least 1200 on the SAT's verbal and math sections earn the Zell Miller Scholarship, which covers full tuition costs.
"That is a very high SAT score, and for a lot of students who grew up poor like I did and certainly students from rural areas are less likely to have that SAT score," she
"It does not mean that they are not qualified to attend college.
It does not mean they are not worthy of an investment from the state, through lottery funds, to help them reach their higher education goals."
said the increasing cost of tuition coupled with a decrease in available funding is making it harder for students to afford college.
"Tuition is increasing very rapidly, and because the HOPE scholarship covers only a percentage of revenue based on lottery revenue, it's covering less and less of tuition for students," she
"Students and families are making up the difference, and it's just becoming such a high number that we are starting to price students out of higher education.
That's a terrible thing for students and their families and that's a terrible thing for our economy because we could have less of our citizens/students pursuing higher education and that's not good for our economy obviously."
Part of the state's college funding issue lies in how much lottery funding is kept in reserve, according to Evans
"People often say government should be run like a business," she
"A business would never hoard money like that.
They would invest in their product, and our product is our citizens and we should be investing that money in them.
We should be responsible, and we should hold reserves at a responsible level, which is what legislation requires."
State law requires the state to keep a shortfall reserve of 50 percent of the prior year's payouts, Evans
In fiscal year 2014, the state kept $347 million more than was required.
That $347 million made the total reserve fund 75 percent more than the required $463 million, she