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Hogan sets up scholarship fund to offset community college tuition

Maryland SealA recently-passed Maryland law will make attending community college more affordable for state residents.

Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed a bill that will help cover the cost of tuition for some state residents attending community colleges. The bill allocates $15 million in state funding to provide scholarships up to $5,000 for students whose family earn less than $150,000 a year or for adults with an income of $100,000 a year or less.

“This is a win-win for our students and our state,” said Bernie Sadusky, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges. “It’s a win for our students, most of whom are low-income, work, and have family responsibilities. And it’s a win for Maryland, because a more-educated workforce is the engine of economic growth.” 

To be eligible for scholarship money, students must have at least a 2.3 grade-point average and be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours at one of the state’s 16 community colleges. The program is set to take effect beginning in 2019.

The scholarship comes with a few strings attached, however. 

The bill, which the General Assembly passed right before the end of its 90-day decision, requires students to first apply for financial aid before they apply for the scholarship. In addition, the bill requires students who receive scholarship funds through the program to work in the state for each year they receive money through the program. If a student leaves the state prior to the required time, the scholarship reverts to a loan that the student must pay back.

The bill received bipartisan support in Annapolis, as Maryland joins the growing trend of states that have passed similar measures to reduce the cost of college tuition. Legislatures in Minnesota, California, Tennessee, and Rhode Island have all passed similar measures to reduce the price of community college tuition.

While some of the state’s counties have similar programs for their residents, Montgomery County does not. While those seeking to attend Montgomery College can apply for financial aid and scholarships to help offset the cost of attendance, tuition at Montgomery College will cost each County resident who enrolls $4,642.

@neal_earley

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