Georgia Policy Labs Reports

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David Ribar:

Ross Rubenstein:



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Georgia offers two large merit-based scholarships to in-state college students: HOPE Scholarships which provide partial tuition support and Zell Miller Scholarships which provide full tuition support but with more stringent eligibility and retention conditions. While previous research has documented inequalities in initial merit scholarship, this study examines how the dynamics of scholarship gains and losses differ for students of color and students who are economically vulnerable, and across institutions, adding to a fuller understanding of inequality in merit-based scholarship receipt. We find that students’ scholarship status changes frequently, with 23 percent of students changing their status at least once and with higher rates of scholarship loss among HOPE Scholarship recipients. White students are more likely than Black and Hispanic students to enter college with a HOPE Scholarship and, particularly, with a Zell Miller Scholarship. Patterns of scholarship loss and gain over students’ careers widen these disparities as Black and Hispanic students are more likely than other students to lose scholarships and less likely to gain or regain them. Men, students from families with lower incomes, independent students, Pell grant recipients, and student loan recipients are also less likely to enter institutions with Zell Miller or HOPE Scholarships, less likely to retain scholarships if they do hold them, and less likely to gain scholarships during college. The report concludes with policy implications and proposals to address these inequalities.


Dynamics of Merit-Based Scholarships in Georgia