News from Montgomery College  News from Montgomery College

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For Immediate Release (00-21)
Date: May 18, 2000
Contact: Steve Simon, 240-567-7952 (pager: 301-930-2880)

New State Scholarship Program Will Benefit Students
Transferring from MC and Other Community Colleges
Governor Glendening Signs Recently Passed Legislation Into Law

Transferring to a four-year school in Maryland may be a more affordable option for students of Montgomery College and other community colleges across the state, now that Governor Parris N. Glendening has signed into law a bill that creates a new scholarship program for academically successful and income-eligible transfer students.

Hailing the creation of the program as a victory for all Maryland community college students, Montgomery College President Charlene R. Nunley said the legislation "goes a long way toward removing what had been a major financial obstacle for many students who want to go forward with their college education.

"Unfortunately, few of the students who excel academically at the community college qualify for merit scholarship funds when they transfer," Nunley said. "Without a scholarship like this one, we at community colleges fear that many of our best and brightest may leave Maryland for better scholarship offers.  Or, worse, they may be forced to forego or postpone a continuation of their studies, due to a lack of funds."

The recently enacted state legislation, officially entitled "HOPE for Nontraditional Students -- Community College Transfer Scholarship Program," expands Maryland's current HOPE Scholarship Program to include funding targeted for high-achieving community college students from around the state who want to attend four year schools in Maryland. The new program will provide $3,000 per academic school year to qualified students.

"This latest Maryland HOPE scholarship is another innovative tool that further supports our overall goal of making sure that all Marylanders, regardless of income, can have access to the
pursuit of a four-year degree," said Governor Glendening. "Having begun my higher education experience at a community college, I have a personal understanding of how beneficial this scholarship program will be to a deserving transfer student."

The new transfer scholarships should help to remedy an inequity in the state's current scholarship program that seems to favor incoming freshman students over transfer students, in terms of the distribution of funds. Data from the University System of Maryland indicates that little more than 20 percent of all full-time transfer students enrolled in University of Maryland schools in 1997 received scholarships, while approximately half of the freshmen class qualified for scholarships.

The university system's figures also show a wide disparity in the amounts provided to these classes of students. The average scholarship award for a full-time transfer student was $1,644, while an award for a full-time freshman was $2,744.

Heather Hatton, of Montgomery College, is one such student who hopes to take advantage of the scholarship. With a perfect 4.0 grade point average and work experience with a local law firm, she plans to major in English, then go on to law school and pursue a career in civil and domestic law.  Hatton noted that while she’d like to continue her studies in Maryland, she’s found that financial aid at the University of Maryland is quite difficult to attain for transfer students and she has received more offers of financial aid from out-of state universities than from the University of Maryland.

Hatton is not bothered by the in-state work requirement that comes with the bill. She testified in Annapolis that “the fact that this scholarship must be repaid by one year of work in Maryland per year the scholarship is received … will greatly encourage both students and graduates to remain and work in Maryland.  It will also assist students, such as myself, who have limited funds to obtain a quality education.”

In addition to the support of the Governor's office, the legislation had widespread support among the state's delegates and senators. According to Montgomery County Delegate Hank Heller, a member of the committee that shepherded the bill through the House of Delegates, the new scholarship program will strengthen all of the state's community colleges. "Community college students from Montgomery County and transfer students from all across the state now have an expanded opportunity to continue their education in Maryland and to give back to the communities in which they live," said Heller, a graduate himself of Montgomery College and Frostburg State University.

Noted lead House sponsor, Delegate Ann Healey (Prince George's County): "I'm very happy about this scholarship.  It's something that really assists students who don't get that opportunity through other scholarship programs and it gives people a second chance to make good.  It really is hope for the non-traditional student and I'm thrilled that it passed."

Senator Michael Collins (Baltimore County), the lead Senate sponsor, said, “We knew this bill was important because of the number of community college students who came to Annapolis to talk to us about the scholarship.  Knowing that these students have little free time -- often balancing college with work and family obligations -- to come to Annapolis to lobby for the bill showed this is clearly a crucial issue for students.”

More than half of all Maryland students seeking undergraduate degrees begin their collegiate careers at community colleges. Those students often continue their studies in Maryland. In 1998, more than 6,000 community college students transferred to a Maryland four-year public institution.

Community college presidents from around the state had made the enactment of the legislation a top priority for the 2000 legislative session, out of concern for the inequity of the current system and the aspirations of their transfer students.

"Transfer students are especially in need of scholarships and other financial assistance because they often begin at community colleges, to take advantage of their affordability and many other benefits," said Kay Bienen, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.

The actual number of transfer scholarships available will depend on the amount of funding recommended by the Governor and approved by the Maryland General Assembly in next year's state operating budget. The first scholarships will be available to transferring students, beginning in the fall of 2001.

To qualify for these transfer scholarships, students must:  1) have been enrolled as a Maryland resident at a Maryland community college for at least 60 credits and/or earned an associate's degree; 2) have earned a 3.0 GPA; 3) be accepted at a Maryland four-year institution; 4) have a family income of $80,000 or less; and 5) agree to work in Maryland after they complete college, for at least the number of years that they received a transfer scholarship.

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