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VOL. 128 | NO. 6 | Wednesday, January 09, 2013

HOPE Scholarship Funding Running Out for Some

AP

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A legislative bill passed two sessions ago is catching up with students who have lottery scholarships, and many find their funding severely cut.

A 2011 statute limits HOPE Scholarship funding to the minimum hours required for a degree program. The change affected students who were already in college as well as those entering higher education.

According to The Knoxville News Sentinel, this quarter is when the limits are becoming apparent to students. Nearly 3,000 students are expected to run out of scholarship funding over the next two years, before the end of their fourth year in school.

State Sen. Doug Overbey, (R-Maryville) said the cap hurts high-achieving students.

"We don't want our students penalized, particularly those who don't get a full eight semesters," he said. "These are some of our brightest students."

Overbey said he will reintroduce a bill that would provide lottery scholarship money through eight full semesters, even if they have enough hours to graduate.

At the University of Tennessee, 292 students are losing their HOPE scholarships this semester because of the cap. Most of them are seniors who have double majors, have changed majors or have transferred from another school.

The number is about 2 percent of UT's students who are recipients of the lottery-funded scholarships, said Jeff Gerkin, UT's director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Overbey said he notified Gov. Bill Haslam that he intends to refile his bill, extending eligibility. He said he also talked to UT administrators, who seemed supportive.

At Maryville College, Dolph Henry, vice president for enrollment, said he would like to see eligibility changed.

"We don't want our students penalized, particularly those who don't get a full eight semesters," he said. "These are some of our brightest students."

One of the students Henry spoke of is Courtney Phillips, who said she received her notification letter last month and cried.

"I would understand if I was staying another year or didn't have the grades, but I'm taking more classes (each semester) and they're punishing me for that," she said.

Phillips said she has two jobs and a payment plan to make up for what her scholarships, grants and loans don't cover.

Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, www.knoxnews.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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