Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones (R-Milton) introduced legislation refining the HOPE scholarship

March 23, 2016

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones (R-Milton) introduced legislation refining the HOPE scholarship to reward Georgia college students for taking rigorous science, technology, engineering, and math courses.

The legislation directs the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to select bachelor-level science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses to receive extra weight for purposes of calculating the HOPE scholarship GPA while a student attends college. Identified core and major courses must be determined to be academically rigorous and required by or lead to jobs in high demand STEM fields. “This initiative will encourage our young people to develop the 21st century skills demanded in STEM fields and make Georgia even more competitive in attracting high tech companies to locate and expand in our state,” said Rep. Jones.

The north Fulton legislator said she drew inspiration from Governor Nathan Deal’s earlier creation of the Strategic Industries Workforce Grants, which rewards students entering high demand programs offered by state technical colleges. Similarly, this legislation will encourage students attending public and private colleges to enter STEM fields in which Georgia has a workforce shortage.

Under the legislation, a student completing a class selected for extra weight would receive .5 added to his or her grade for purposes of calculating the HOPE scholarship GPA. No extra weight would be given for an A or F. The weighting is consistent with current HOPE weighting for AP/IB/dual enrollment courses in high school. For example, the Regents could select calculus and chemistry courses to qualify for extra weight because the demanding courses are required for certain college majors and as prerequisites for certain post-graduate degrees in STEM fields, including healthcare.

Rep. Jones said that providing additional GPA weight is intended to encourage students to shoulder the additional academic risk of losing the HOPE scholarship that is inherent in demanding academic courses. Additionally, the bill is designed to help the state in preparing future computer scientists, nurses and engineers as well as college graduates qualified for further study as physician’s assistants and doctors.The legislation will afford the Regents the necessary flexibility to make changes to the courses that qualify for additional weight to meet the workforce needs of a dynamic economy.

Representative Jan Jones represents the citizens of District 47, which includes portions of Fulton County. She was elected into the House of Representatives in 2002, and currently serves as the Speaker Pro-Tempore. She also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and the Education, Ethics, Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment, Regulated Industries, and Rules committees.