• New HOPE Scholarship Rules Hit Older Students

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    ATLANTA - A little-publicized change in the HOPE scholarship program is having a huge impact on older students.

    The new rule, which took effect in July, does not allow students who graduated high school more than seven years ago and never had the scholarship to be eligible for it.

    Georgia State University student Kellie Tuck says the new rule is unfair and that she feels robbed. Tuck, 36, is on the dean's list with GPA of nearly 3.6.

    "I hate to say it but it does look like a case of age discrimination to me," Tuck said. "If you did this in a company, you would have a lawsuit."

    Under the old rules, Tuck needed to take 30 credit hours and a 3.0 GPA to qualify for HOPE.

    Tuck was accepted to GSU during the summer. But lawmakers finalized their cuts to the popular scholarship program in March, which was too late for Tuck and others in her same situation to increase their credit hours and qualify for HOPE before that summer deadline.

    "If I had known there was a deadline, I might have been able to do something," Tuck said.

    "This is the economy where people are losing their jobs like I did and want to go back to college to better themselves, and we're being slapped in the face and told no," Tuck said. "Is my education not worth as much as a younger student?"

    Tim Connell, President of the Georgia Student Finance Commission said the cuts were necessary because the scholarship program was running out of money. Connell added that about 250,000 students qualify for HOPE, and they've only received about 50 complaints regarding the new cuts.

    Tuck questions the cutbacks.

    "It was one of the decisions I made to go to school was because I knew if I could just struggle through 30 hours and then get the HOPE, then I would have some help," Tuck said. "It's not fair, and I understand that they have to make cuts. I understand that but at what level?"

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