Submitted by the Senate Press Office
The Georgia Senate on Thursday approved House Bill 697, a bill that establishes the Zell Miller Grant and defines additional opportunities for taxpayer contributions towards educational assistance nonprofits.
The bill passed unanimously by a vote of 56 to 0 and was carried by Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton. Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, sponsored the bill in the House.
“HB 697 expands the state’s ability to provide alternatives for higher education funding, and also ensures our highest achieving students are being recognized for their efforts,” said Bethel. “This bill received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and is strongly supported by Gov. Deal.”
HB 697 creates the Zell Miller Grant, a new subprogram of the HOPE Grant. The Zell Miller Grant will cover full tuition for students enrolled in a certificate or diploma program who achieve and maintain a minimum 3.5 grade point average. Based on current enrollment numbers, the Zell Miller Grant will cover approximately 16,000 students attending schools within the Technical College System of Georgia in fiscal year 2015.
HB 697 also allows taxpayers to contribute to nonprofits created by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) to aid students with education expenses through Georgia income tax return forms. The funds collected will be equally distributed to the GSFC nonprofits.
HB 697 will now go to Deal’s desk, where it will await his approval via signature into Georgia law.
Bethel is an administration floor leader representing the 54th Senate District, which includes Murray and Whitfield counties and portions of Pickens and Gordon counties. He may be reached by phone at (404) 656-6436 or by email to Charlie.Bethel@senate.ga.gov.