Last year, the HOPE Scholarship Fund in Tennessee paid out $8.5 million more than it took in from proceeds from the state lottery. The deficit is expected to grow to $20 million over the next decade. The merit-based scholarships offer up to $6,000 for students at four-year colleges and universities.
Recently, the Senate Lottery Stabilization Task Force voted unanimously to raise the criteria for qualifying for full HOPE scholarships. Under the new plan, students would have to reach benchmark levels for both high school grade point averages and scores on the ACT college entrance examination to receive a full scholarship. Students who met only one of the two benchmarks would receive half as much during their first two years in college. If these students remained in school, they would receive full scholarships for their junior and senior years.
It is estimated that 5,200 students a year would receive less money. It is generally conceded that Black and other minority students, who on average score lower on the ACT test than whites, would be disproportionately impacted by the proposed change.