The HOPE scholarship and grant programs would cover more students under a package of bills that author Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, says have bipartisan support.

House Bill 22 would cover full tuition costs for all technical college students. Evans said that before 2011 budget cuts, all Hope grant recipients in technical colleges had their full tuition paid.

“We need financial incentives to go to technical colleges,” Evans told InsiderAdvantage Georgia. “This will close our skills gap.” Georgia companies say they have difficulty finding workers with the right training to fill open jobs, and Evans’ HOPE bills are among several legislative initiatives to boost technical education.

The 2011 reduction in the Hope grants’ tuition coverage led to a decline in technical college students, leading to legislation last year that paid full tuition to Zell Miller grant recipients who achieve a 3.5 grade point average. Evans said that covered 16,000 technical college students, 20 percent of the total. 

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