College applications to GA schools are free in March. Here’s how to snag that scholarship.

The graduation ceremony at University of West Georgia. (Credit: University of West Georgia)

It’s free to apply to most state colleges, universities and technical colleges through March 31, in time for both summer and fall semester deadlines. At $30 a pop per application at many schools, it’s a great time to save on multiple applications. 

Here’s a guide to the main state-funded scholarships and grants in the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) college aid program for Georgia residents, as well as some links to find other financial aid. 


More than 38,000 of 130,000 high school seniors who received letters from the new Georgia Match direct admissions program last fall have already applied, according to the Georgia Student Finance Commission. College officials are eager to see more high school students and other Georgians with a high school diploma or equivalency apply to the schools they’re qualified to attend. 

Based on their grade point average through 11th grade, most seniors now know which of the 22 schools within the Technical College System of Georgia and the public four-year colleges within the University System of Georgia are “holding a spot” for them to attend this fall. (Notably, the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College & State University are not on anyone’s Georgia Match list, because they have admission requirements beyond high school GPA).

Application deadlines: While many technical and two-year colleges have rolling deadlines, the deadline for most four-year colleges for fall semester 2024 is in April, May or June. The new college admissions cycle for fall semester 2025 at many Georgia colleges and universities begins on Aug. 1.

One-stop college shop: Students and families can access their customized college page on the Georgia Futures website, the main portal for applying to college and for post-secondary financial aid in Georgia, including state and federal grants and loans, and private scholarships.


Since it was created in 1993, the Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE college aid program has doled out almost $15 billion in scholarships and grants. Initial and ongoing eligibility for these awards is mostly based on high school and college GPA, respectively, and in some cases, standardized test scores. 

It’s important to know that initial eligibility for HOPE scholarships is based not on your overall high school GPA, but your HOPE GPA — which is calculated from your grades in core academic courses, including English, math, science, social studies and foreign languages.

HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships

Eligibility Requirements: 

To qualify for the HOPE Scholarship, students must have graduated from an eligible high school with a 3.0 HOPE GPA or higher and enroll in a Georgia college or university.

You can also become eligible for HOPE even if you end high school with a HOPE GPA below 3.0 by maintaining a 3.0 college GPA for two concurrent college semesters.

 The Zell Miller Scholarship has stricter requirements. Students must graduate from an eligible high school with a 3.7 HOPE GPA or higher, and score at least 1200 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT.

Award Amounts:

The HOPE Scholarship covers full tuition and fees for up to 127 semester hours or until the student earns a bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first. (A bill pending in the Legislature this session, HB 1231, would also allow students to use the HOPE scholarship on graduate level courses). 

The Zell Miller Scholarship covers full tuition at a Georgia college or university and also provides a stipend for books and other educational expenses.

Award amounts for both HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships at public colleges range from $1,425 per semester at small colleges such as East Georgia State College to $5,129 at research universities such as Georgia Tech.

Both scholarships cover full or partial tuition costs at many private colleges in Georgia; the Georgia Futures site has the award amounts for every public, private and technical college in Georgia for the 2023-24 academic year.

Renewal Criteria:

HOPE Scholarship recipients must maintain a 3.0 GPA in college to remain eligible.

Zell Miller Scholarship recipients must maintain a 3.3 GPA in college.

HOPE, HOPE Career and Zell Miller Grants

Separate from the scholarship programs, the HOPE grant programs are available to Georgia residents working toward a certificate or diploma at an eligible college, university or technical college in Georgia. This includes many dual enrollment programs available to high school students. Besides helping students to join the skilled workforce and increase their earning power, some credits earned at technical schools and community colleges can transfer to state colleges and universities offering four-year degrees.


To qualify for a HOPE Grant or HOPE Career Grant, students are not required to graduate from high school with a specific GPA; however, they must maintain a 2.0 college GPA to remain eligible. For a Zell Miller Grant, students must maintain a 3.5 college GPA.

The HOPE Career Grant is an extra award for students with a HOPE or Zell Miller grant who enroll in select majors and programs of study specifically aligned with high-demand career paths in industries where there are more jobs available in Georgia than there are skilled workers to fill them, which the state has identified as strategically important for economic development. 

Among them are automotive technology, aviation technology, commercial truck driving, computer programming, early childhood care and education, practical nursing, and precision manufacturing. (Note: A bill pending in the Legislature, HB 982, would redefine the High-Demand Career List used for HOPE grants, K-12 career pathways courses, economic development incentives and other state programs). 

Students can be enrolled full- or part-time  in a certificate or diploma program and receive  these grants.

Award Amounts: 

Award amounts for HOPE and Zell Miller grants vary, from $1,500 per semester at some technical colleges to $2,250 at a state college.

The HOPE Career Grant award amount is based on the student’s program of study and hours of enrollment. Most programs offer up to $500 per semester. Truck driving programs offer up to $1,100 and basic law enforcement programs offer up to $3,750 per semester. 


The Georgia Match portal on the Georgia Futures website abounds with information on additional financial aid opportunities for Georgia students, from federal Pell grants to college-specific and private scholarships to other state-funded grants, scholarships and loans.

The Georgia Student Finance Commission has a regional outreach team that provides free in-person training and workshops across the state to help students and their families complete financial aid forms and college applications, and to plan for college. 

Their Financial Aid events calendar is full of upcoming gatherings at high schools, colleges and community centers across the state. 

Have questions or comments? Contact Jill Jordan Sieder on X @journalistajill or at [email protected].

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