State college scholarship program launched

With the passage of a new law this year, Maryland will join several other states that are helping to make a community college education more affordable by offering a Community College Promise Scholarship program.

The program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2019. Gov. Larry Hogan will appropriate $15 million for FY 2020, and each year thereafter, for the program.

Eligible students include those who enroll within two years of high school graduation or completion of a GED in Maryland; have a high school grade point average of at least 2.3 on a 4.0 scale; enroll full time with at least 12 credits per term in a credit certificate or associate degree program, or enroll to earn a non-credit certificate; and have an annual adjusted gross income of not more than $100,000 for those who are single or living in a single-parent household or $150,000 for those who are married or living in a two-parent household.

The scholarship is “last-dollar” funding, which means that students must apply for federal, state and other financial aid. All other financial aid must be awarded before these scholarship funds are provided. Students will be required to re-apply every year.

Promise scholarship recipients must maintain employment in Maryland for at least one year for each year they receive scholarship funding. The scholarships will convert to loans if recipients fail to fulfill the service obligation.

Full regulations for the scholarship are being developed by the Maryland Higher Education

Commission.

“This program provides an incredible opportunity for Maryland high school graduates to access a high-quality affordable education,” said Dr. Ray Hoy, President of Wor-Wic Community College.

“A more highly-educated population enables the success and growth of local businesses, as well as increased personal prosperity for the graduates. The long-term impact will improve all communities across Maryland and grow the economy,” Hoy said.

“I wholeheartedly believe in this program,” he said. “We hope that our existing Wicomico and Somerset economic impact scholarships continue to bridge the gap until this program is up and running.”

Additionally, Hoy said that many nontraditional Wor-Wic students won’t be eligible for these programs, so federal, state and other financial aid and scholarships remain critical to the access and success of students at Wor-Wic.

Also as a part of this new law, a Near-Completer Grant will be available for students who have completed 75 percent of their academic degree requirements. Recipients must have completed 45 credit hours at a community college or 90 credit hours at a four-year institution. They must have earned a minimum 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Also scheduled to begin in the fall of 2019, this program will provide students who enroll in a credit program of study at a community college or four-year institution in Maryland with up to one-third of their in-state tuition costs. All other financial aid must be applied before these funds are provided, and awards will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.

More information, including where and how to apply, will be forthcoming once MHEC develops the regulations for these programs.

 

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