As national politicians craft proposals for making college cost-free, Maryland’s newest crop of high school graduates can apply for free tuition at the state’s 16 community colleges through the new Community College Promise Scholarship program. Completed applications are due June 17 for the academic year that starts in September, the program’s inaugural year.
So far, more than 1,600 students have inquired about or applied for the scholarships, officials at the Maryland Higher Education Commission said.
“The response has been steady,” MHEC Office of Student Financial Assistance Director Donna Thomas said in an email. “However, as we get closer to the June 17 deadline, submissions for supporting documentation and inquiries are increasing rapidly.”
Nearly $15 million has been budgeted for the program, which offers up to $5,000 to cover tuition and mandatory fees that remain after all other scholarships and non-loan financial aid has been applied. That amount would cover about 3,000 scholarships if every awardee received the full $5,000.
Costs of tuition and fees at the state’s community colleges vary. In fall 2019, tuition and fees for full-time, in-state students will range from $1,657 per semester at Baltimore City Community College to $2,661 per semester for Montgomery County residents and $5,127 per semester for other in-state residents at Montgomery College, according to the colleges’ websites.
To apply, students must have filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Maryland State Financial Aid Application (MSFAA) by March 1 and must submit required documentation, including a high school transcript or GED and tax information, by Monday.
To be eligible for the state-sponsored scholarship students must have graduated from a Maryland high school or earned a GED in the state within two years from the start of the fall semester, be eligible for in-state tuition, have earned a high school cumulative GPA of at least 2.3 and be enrolled in at least 12 credits’ worth of courses. Single students or students in single-parent households must have an annual income of less than $100,000 to be eligible while married students or students in two-parent households must make less than $150,000.
Students already enrolled in community college are eligible, as long as they graduated from high school or completed a GED in the state within the last two years.
In April, the Maryland General Assembly passed revisions that impact eligibility, awarding, and the service obligation requirements for the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship. State officials are still processing the changes and said that updated information will be on the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s (MHEC) website in the next few weeks at www.mhec.maryland.gov.