Governor Hogan Signs Landmark Community College Scholarship Legislation
Yesterday in Annapolis, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed the milestone Near Completers and Maryland Community College Promise Scholarships Bill which allocates $15 million per year in need-based tuition aid for eligible community college students. Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and Speaker of the House Michael Busch joined Governor Hogan to sign the legislation that passed during the final 10 minutes of the 2018 Maryland General Assembly session. The governor and presiding officers were joined by numerous other elected officials, stakeholders, and community leaders.
“This visionary legislation demonstrates that the legislature heard us when we said that for our students, poverty —not aptitude, ability or aspiration—is the number one barrier to a degree,” said Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College. “It interrupts a discouraging reality: that only eight percent of people in the lowest economic tier earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. Radical inclusion has long been a practice at Montgomery College (MC) and this legislation is a policy that will promote it throughout the State of Maryland.”
By 2020, 69 percent of Maryland jobs will require a postsecondary education according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, while about 40 percent of Maryland’s high school graduates don’t enroll in any postsecondary education within one year of graduation. Meanwhile, Maryland employers in high-demand fields contend with unfilled positions and insufficiently skilled applicants.
“This is a win–win for our students and our state,” said Dr. 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.”
The program, which begins in fall of 2019, requires students to access all other eligible financial aid before Maryland’s College Promise scholarship funds, up to $5,000 per year, are awarded. Recipients must work in Maryland one year for each year of scholarship awarded, or the scholarships convert to loans and must be repaid.
“Postsecondary education is vital to fueling Maryland’s economy with ready workers and more than a majority of new jobs in Montgomery County will require a postsecondary education—from a certificate to a baccalaureate degree,” Dr. Pollard added. “The Pell grant is simply not enough to help more students obtain the needed education and training to compete and succeed… Even at community colleges, Pell grants frequently do not cover the cost of attendance, leaving students to cover the balance.”
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