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The Center Square [By Jon Styf] –
The Tennessee Legislature approved an $85 million increase in funding for the HOPE scholarship on the final day of the legislative session.
Senate Bill 2405 will now head to Gov. Bill Lee. The bill increases the scholarship for all eligible students who graduate from a Tennessee high school with a 3.0 GPA or higher and have a 21 on their ACT test or 1060 on their SAT test.
To maintain the scholarship, the student must have at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA at the end of the semester when the student attempted to reach 24 and 48 semester hours and then a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the end of the semester when they attempt to reach 72 hours and every 24 hours attempted after that.
The scholarship award will surge from $3,500 to $4,500 per year for freshmen and sophomores at a four-year institution and from $4,500 to $5,700 for junior and seniors.
It will increase from $3,000 to $3,200 per year for students at two-year schools.
The program is funded from revenue from the Tennessee Lottery.
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The award is estimated to impact 32,637 freshmen and sophomores and 30,537 juniors and seniors at four-year schools along with 15,901 students at two-year schools.
The bill also increases eligibility for scholarships to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, aiming to target the 12.6% of Tennesseans ages 16 to 24 who are not in school currently, according to Rep. Tim Hicks, R-Gray.
The bill made it to the final day of session after the House and Senate disagreed on making the scholarship eligible for a fourth year for students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in three years. That stipulation was removed on final consideration from the House, Hicks said.
About the Author: Jon Styf, The Center Square Staff Reporter – Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.