Photo: CSM student Llana Coloma
The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) welcomed 153 recipients of the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship (MCCPS) to its campuses this fall – helping to launch the inaugural semester for the state initiative aimed at helping Maryland’s families afford college. CSM has the second most Promise Scholars in Maryland in both recipients and total dollars awarded, $565,558.
The first scholarships were awarded to students across the state in August and provided up to $5,000 in tuition assistance for eligible students as a “last dollar” scholarship – meaning the Promise Scholarship covered any remaining tuition and mandatory fees after other grants and scholarships were awarded.Waldorf resident and second-year CSM student Llana Coloma applied for the Promise scholarship after earning the Albert Elder Family Scholarship.
“It was really on a whim when I applied for the Promise Scholarship,” Coloma shared. “I wasn’t sure that I would even receive it. But the day that I received an email saying I was accepted for the scholarship was a very memorable day. I was in shock. It gave me new energy and drive to work harder and become better for my next year of classes.”
Matthew McCloskey, of Lusby, is the father of Promise Scholarship recipient and second-year CSM student Kaitlin McCloskey.
“Being that we are the parents of nine children,” he shared. “The Promise Scholarship program helps us out tremendously.”
In fact, Kaitlin is the McCloskey’s eighth child to attend CSM. The McCloskey’s seven other children earned their associate degrees at CSM and transferred to four-year universities, like Kaitlin too, plans to do. As a family who are “firm believers in community college,” Matthew McCloskey said his ninth child plans to apply for the Maryland Promise and attend CSM in the fall of 2020 after graduating from Calvert High School.
Maryland is one of 19 states that cover tuition at community colleges, part of a growing movement to use higher education to strengthen the local economy. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed the milestone Near Completers and Maryland Community College Promise Scholarships bill (HB 16) May 9, 2018 to establish need-based tuition aid for eligible community college students. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and former Speaker of the House Michael Busch joined 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 the bill’s lead sponsor, Delegate Frank S. Turner of Howard County, numerous other elected officials, presidents of several Maryland community colleges, and staff from the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.
This fall, Coloma was able to thank Miller in person during a CSM Foundation event announcing the establishment of a Center for Leadership in the senator’s name.
“Llana comes from a family of four; her mom is a speech pathologist for Prince George’s County Public Schools and her dad teaches engineering at Oxon Hill High School,” CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy explained while introducing Coloma to Miller and all attendees at the event. “Llana also works as a student assistant in our development department, and she is exactly the kind of student the Maryland College Promise was designed to serve.”
“It means so much to my parents and me that I was able to receive this scholarship,” Coloma said. “I work part time as a student assistant to be able to pay for books and a part of my tuition while my parents help me pay for the rest. The scholarship is such an amazing opportunity because being able to save money any way you can for your future is so important. It is also a stepping stone for my education after CSM. It is a way for me to be able to see ahead into my plans for university.”
Coloma is studying to be a speech pathologist, and has made the Dean’s list every semester (fall 2018, spring 2019, summer 2019). She plans to attend the University of Maryland, College Park and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders.
“Making higher education affordable is the single smartest investment we can make in the lives of every learner, in our communities, and in our economy,” said Murphy. “We are thrilled that 153 of our students are Promise Scholars. More financial support is outstanding for our students, but it is important to remember that this program will help some students—not the majority—afford community college.”
“While this program is a good first step toward college affordability, it is important to remember that CSM’s scholarships will continue to be vital and a necessary resource for many of our students,” echoed CSM Vice President of Advocacy and Community Engagement Michelle Goodwin.
The state has also authorized a Near-Completer Grant that will be available for those students who have completed 75 percent of their academic degree requirements.
For the MCCPS, based on the remaining gap after all eligible financial aid has been awarded, the student may apply for a maximum of $5,000 per year. The recipient must be a full-time student enrolled in a Maryland Community College for a vocational certificate, a credit certificate, or an associate degree. The recipient must be within two years of graduating high school or completing a GED and have a high school GPA of 2.3 or higher. The recipient must have an annual adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less if single or resides in a single-parent household, or $150,000 if married or resides in a two-parent household. The recipient must work within the state of Maryland one year for each year of being awarded the scholarship.
Maryland’s Near-Completer Grant Program (MCCPS) began Fall 2019 for students who are close to finishing degrees at either community colleges or four-year institutions within Maryland. These near-completer students can receive up to one-third of tuition due. Grants are available for credit programs only and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The recipient must have completed 45 credit hours from a community college or 90 credit hours from a four-year institution. The recipient must have a minimum 2.0 on a scale of 4.0. All financial aid must be applied before this award is appropriated, and funds will be allocated for tuition only, for up to one-third of the in-county resident tuition rate.
For more information on the MCCPS at CSM, visit www.csmd.edu/promise. For information on CSM’s scholarship finder, visit https://www.csmd.edu/costs-aid/credit-costs-aid/scholarships-financial-aid/scholarships/scholarship-finder/. For information on the Near-Completer grant, visit https://mhec.maryland.gov/Pages/NEAR-COMPLETERS-GRANT-INFORMATION.aspx.