State Rep. Matt Dollar of East Cobb is among the lawmakers on Tuesday who introduced HB 324, which would remove the new requirement that HOPE scholars have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
“This change will make the process much easier for HOPE scholars and their families,” said Dollar, a Republican who represents House District 45.
Another co-sponsor of the legislation is Republican Rep. Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs.
A recently enacted Georgia law now requires all state agencies to verify the lawful presence of any individual who applies for a public benefit. This law provides an exemption for the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) because these state institutions already verify that their students are lawfully present in the United States in a manner that is in compliance with federal law.
Although the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC), like USG and TCSG, is required to verify the lawful presence of students receiving public benefits, like HOPE, in accordance with federal law, the GSFC is not exempt from the state law.
“The law currently requires GSFC to waste state resources by annually re-verifying more than 210,000 students enrolled in Georgia’s colleges, universities, and technical schools who have already been verified as lawfully present by the USG and TCSG,” Dollar said. “This is yet another incentive, beyond the federal law, for the schools to conduct this check appropriately."
The GSFC provides financial aid to help Georgia students at the state’s colleges, universities, and technical schools. GSFC programs include state- and lottery-funded scholarships, grants and low-interest loans.
Students could go back to using the simpler Georgia Student Financial Aid Application System (GSFAPPS), the state application for student benefits.
For more information on HB 324, please click here.