PGCC Promise Scholarship Gets Preliminary Approval

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Article by: Artelia C. Gillam

Prince George’s Community College to receive $1.7 million from County to fund Prince George’s County Promise Scholarship Program

Largo, MD – Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III announced, during the March 15, 2017 press conference where he presented his proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year, a recommendation for $1.7 million to fund the Prince George’s County Promise Scholarship Program for recent county high school graduates who enroll at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC).

The funds are part of the additional $3.4 million in county appropriations the college is projected to receive from the county and represents a 9.9% increase from the previous fiscal year, for a total of $38.3 million. Baker’s budget still has to be approved by the County Council, which has until May 31 for final approval.

The proposal to create the program originated from legislation approved by Governor Larry Hogan in response to Maryland House Bill 1087, introduced by the Honorable Alonzo Washington, Delegate, District 22. A 16-member task force was later convened to study the feasibility of creating a program that would provide scholarships to pay for tuition and mandatory fees not covered by federal or state financial aid.

Ninety-three percent of the college’s students are county residents. Close to 70% of students who attend PGCC require financial aid to meet the cost of education. The students who receive financial aid are generally from low-income households. The largest amount of aid received by PGCC students are through grants, and to help supplement their educational expenses, many students must turn to loans.

“These funds represent a real breakthrough in addressing the challenges that many of our high school aged residents in Prince George’s County are facing when considering how they will fund their higher education pursuits,” said Dr. Charlene M. Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College. “We are excited that the county has recognized that providing access to higher education is a priority and that the college is critical in helping to meet that need.”

The task force recommended that the program be a “last-dollar” program, meaning that any funds students receive would cover the costs associated with tuition and mandatory fees that remain after applying all financial resources. But, even in last-dollar programs, students are still burdened with associated costs that come with being a student, such as transportation, childcare, materials, and supplies.

In making this announcement, Prince George’s County could be among the first five jurisdictions in the state of Maryland to implement a Promise Program and could be added to a list of early adopters of some form of debt-free community college nationwide.

According to research compiled by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Promise Programs have shown to increase enrollment in public school systems and higher education institutions. These programs bridge the existing education and wage gaps for minority, low-income, and first generation students.

“What we know is that no single entity in the Prince George’s County community, which includes the college, individuals, businesses, institutions, and government, can achieve the proven benefits of Promise Programs by acting alone,” Dukes said. “The implementation of a program such as this one is an opportunity for county stakeholders to work together to achieve desirable educational, economic, and social benefits.”

About Prince George’s Community College

Named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security (2015-2020), Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) provides high-quality education and training for the progressive and career-oriented residents of Prince George’s County. From new high school graduates and career seekers to more seasoned professionals and senior citizens looking to enhance their skillsets, PGCC is comprised of students who represent a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and goals. Serving nearly 40,000 individuals annually, the college is the first choice for higher education for residents of Prince George’s County. Collaborative partnerships, responsive degree and training programs, and a commitment to student success enables PGCC to address diverse education and workforce development demands. For more information, visit the college website at Prince George’s Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; (267-284-5000); The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

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