Published on 2013/09/10

Should Public Financial Aid be Made Available to Continuing Education Students? (Part 2)

Should Public Financial Aid be Made Available to Continuing Education Students? (Part 2)
Georgia has a robust public financial aid program in place to help students access higher education, but the program specifically identifies continuing education students as ineligible.

This is the second installment in a six-part series by Karen LaMarsh on financial aid for continuing education (CE) students. In the first installment, LaMarsh looked at the availability of public support for students looking to enroll both in degree and non-degree programs. In this piece, she takes a closer look at Georgia, her home state, and the programs they have in place to increase higher education accessibility for CE students.

The Georgia Example

Across the United States, most state-provided financial aid comes with the basic requirement that students must be a resident of state and/or attend school in the state.

HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) is Georgia’s best known scholarship program. It is a unique scholarship and grant program that rewards students with financial assistance in degree, diploma and certificate programs at eligible Georgia public and private colleges and universities, as well as public technical colleges. HOPE is funded entirely by the Georgia Lottery for Education, which also funds Georgia’s statewide prekindergarten program. Since the HOPE program began in 1993, more than $6.4 billion in HOPE funds have been awarded to more than 1.5 million students attending Georgia’s colleges, universities, and technical colleges.

The HOPE scholarship program is for students who have demonstrated academic achievement and who are seeking a college degree. There are several ways to become eligible for the HOPE scholarship, either by graduating from high school as a HOPE scholar or by earning the status while enrolled in college.

Full-time enrollment is not required and students are not required to graduate from high school with a specific GPA. However, they are required to have a postsecondary cumulative 3.0 GPA, at certain checkpoints, in order to maintain eligibility. According to the Georgia Student Finance Commission, “Recipients of the HOPE Grant are not limited by the number of technical Certificate or Diploma programs of study for which they can receive HOPE Grant payment, provided the Paid-Hours and/or the Combined Paid-Hours limit has not been reached.”[1] Georgia’s HOPE Grant is limited to “technical certificates.”

However, students enrolled in continuing education programs are not eligible to apply. According to the HOPE Grant 2012 – 2013 regulation below, CE is not considered proper coursework for eligibility.

306.7. Continuing Education and Audit Coursework.

A student is ineligible to receive HOPE Grant payment for coursework classified by his or her Eligible Postsecondary Institution as Continuing Education or Audit coursework.[2]

Why is this the case?

– – – – References

[1] Georgia Student Finance Commission, “HOPE Grant Program REGULATIONS.”

[2] Ibid

This is the second installment in a six-part series by Karen LaMarsh exploring the availability of federal and state financial aid funding for non-traditional students enrolling in continuing education programs.

To read other articles in the series, please click below.

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Readers Comments

Tawna Regehr 2013/09/10 at 11:50 am

From reading about Georgia’s HOPE program, it’s clear that it’s difficult for adult students to access financial aid. Further, the decision to deny them assistance seems to be based on a rather arbitrary justification.

Patricia Lawerence 2013/09/10 at 1:01 pm

I’m looking forward to the next part in this series because, right now, the options look pretty bleak for adult students. It would be interesting if LaMarsh could explore, in greater detail, some of the reasons many of these aid programs don’t apply to adult students.

    Karen 2013/10/15 at 11:45 am

    Hi Patricia and Tawna,

    The financial aid programs may be used for credit-seeking programs, i.e., degree granting programs, but not continuing education certificate programs. And yes, I am very interested in this issue and learning more about how other higher education systems have cleared this hurdle. I believe Georgia’s technical college system shifted many of their continuing education programs so that they awarded credit. This made them eligible for financial aid.


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