BALTIMORE (WBFF)-- Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Monday a move that he says would help make college a reality for hundreds of recent high school graduates. Kamenetz told a crowd that his FY 19 budget proposal will include a request for a Baltimore County College Promise program. If approved by the County Council, this new need-based scholarship program, will begin with the Fall 2018 semester, and will cover tuition and mandatory fees at CCBC to enable eligible Baltimore County residents to complete an associate's degree or workplace and certification program, up to a maximum of three years.
"This is a real game-changer for students from low or moderate income families for whom the benefits of a college education might otherwise be out of reach," Kamenetz said. "It opens up a lifetime of career income opportunities."
The Baltimore County College Promise program guarantees that CCBC college tuition will be free for eligible recent high school graduates who live in Baltimore County. It applies to students pursuing an associate's degree or a licensure or certification program. The scholarship goes beyond federal, state and private scholarships to provide full tuition for qualified students to pursue and complete their education at CCBC.
"The Baltimore County College Promise program is truly something to celebrate," exclaimed CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis. "It will increase access to higher education for hard-working Baltimore County students who otherwise might struggle to meet the financial obligation of going to college. Students who receive a Promise Scholarship must be college ready, doubling the value of this investment. We are fortunate to have a County Executive who believes in the importance of public higher education and not only 'talks the talk,' but 'walks the walk.' The Baltimore County College Promise program is an investment in the future of Baltimore County students and our local economy."
"This is a tremendous opportunity for our recent graduates, especially those with financial constraints, to take full advantage of the tremendous education and career-advancing opportunities at CCBC," said BCPS Interim Superintendent Verletta White.
College Promise has widespread support among County Council members, "I know firsthand how much the people in my district value CCBC Catonsville," said 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk. "To give individuals who might not be able to afford to go to college the opportunity to do so is vital to our future as a county, and frankly, as a nation. This is about family stability and economic growth."
"There is nothing more important to a person than a good job, and access to higher education is vital in opening up opportunities for individuals," said 2nd District Councilwoman Vicki Almond. "This is a very good day for Baltimore County."
"Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. This announcement is about jobs pure and simple," said Council Chair Julian E. Jones, Jr. "Helping people get the education they need to succeed is exactly what government ought to do."
"For people in my district, this announcement will be a true lifesaver," said 6th District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins. "Free college tuition will open up doors that otherwise would be closed. I am so proud to be a part of this effort."
"Both the Essex and Dundalk campuses of CCBC are important resources in my community," said 7th District Councilman Todd Crandell. "Making college more affordable to those who struggle to make ends meet is a very good thing."
Qualifications and Requirements
To be eligible, students must live in Baltimore County and have an adjusted household income of $69,000 or less, which is the median income for Baltimore County residents. Students must have graduated from a public, parochial or home school within the past two years with a GPA of 2.5 or better and complete a federal financial aid (FAFSA form). Baltimore County College Promise students must enroll full-time and be college-ready. They must maintain full-time enrollment and a GPA of at least 2.5. The scholarship applies only to the student's first credential or degree. More details on eligibility and program parameters can be found on the attached fact sheet.
How to Apply
Students who wish to learn more about the Baltimore County College Promise may visit the College Promise page on CCBC's website.
The current cost for full-time CCBC students taking 12 credits per semester is $1,865 in tuition and fees. The Baltimore County College Promise scholarship is calculated as a "last dollar in" award, meaning that it is applied after all other financial awards like Pell grants and state aid (not including loans) have been utilized. For example, students with $1,000 in financial aid would receive $865 from this new program to fill the gap.
CCBC estimates that approximately 1,100 students, who graduated in the past two years, are eligible for the first year of the program, and the projected cost for the first year is $980,000. Costs for years two and three are estimated at $1.8 million and $2.3 million respectively. Baltimore County government will provide the funding for the Baltimore County College Promise scholarship from its operating budget that will be presented to the County Council for approval this April.
The County Executive will present his budget to the County Council on April 12. The County Council will vote on the budget on May 24.