A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Maryland Governor passes new legislation allowing for free community college for certain students

In the final minutes of a 2018 legislative session, Governor Larry Hogan approved that scholarships will be provided up to $5,000 to students from families earning less than $125,000 a year. Additionally, single adults earning less than $90,000 also would be eligible for the money.

 As 2018 comes to a close, most seniors have an idea what they would like to do after graduation, whether it be a four-year university, trade school, the military, or community college.

If the senior is not sure what their best course of action is, Community College is always a great option. Community college offers lower tuition than four-year universities, more flexibility, and easier admission possibilities.

“Community College is honestly just a cheaper way of getting the same education of one going to a University it’s [just] more affordable which is good,” said senior Mary Boualy.

It is a common misconception that Community College is free to everyone but that’s not quite true, the income of the family must still be under $125,000 a year.

To qualify, prospective students must enroll in a Maryland community college within two years of finishing high school or obtaining a GED. Students would have to take 12 credit hours and have a high school GPA of at least 2.3.

Maryland is not the first state to provide free community college for residents. California,  Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island and Tennessee have statewide free community-college programs, with Tennessee’s model lauded as a viable path for reducing higher-education costs.

Last year, New York became the largest state to offer tuition-free public higher education at its community colleges and four-year universities.

With changing times, a degree or some sort of postsecondary education will be necessary. According to the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce it is estimated that by 2020, 69 percent of Maryland jobs will require some form of postsecondary education. About 37 percent of adults in the state of Maryland have not pursued higher education.

According to Admissions.UMD.edu The University of Maryland College Park has a program called the Maryland Transfer Advantage Program where students who participate have access to transfer advising resources, can take discounted courses at UMD, and are guaranteed admission to the university upon successful completion of the program and submission of a transfer application by the priority application deadline.

“The free Community College will be beneficial because those who can’t afford to have an opportunity [of going to college will now be] getting a college education for free,” said Boualy.