ANNAPOLIS – One day, as president of the United States, 16- year-old Sarah Andrews would like to see the country “moving to the point where education is really the top priority.”
But today, as a junior at Western High School in Baltimore City, her top priority is how to pay for college.
Maryland’s HOPE Scholarship is the answer, she told the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee Wednesday.
The Maryland HOPE Scholarship, a key piece of Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s legislative agenda, would pay tuition, mandatory fees and a book allowance — but not room and board — at any public community college or four-year institution in the state for high school graduates with a B average whose family incomes do not exceed $60,000 per year.
The scholarship would continue for up to four years as long as the student maintained a B average in core college courses. Students at private colleges in Maryland would receive an amount equal to the cost of tuition and fees at a public campus.
In order to maintain their scholarships, students would have to enter college within one year of graduating from high school.
Glen Newsome, executive director of the Georgia Student Finance Commission, discussed Georgia’s program, which is similar but has no income cap.
The scholarship sends a “powerful message that has resonated with the students and their parents,” Newsome said at a news conference earlier in the day. It also makes “young people aware of the importance of academic achievement.”
The Georgia program started in September 1993 and now helps over 200,000 students attend college. At the University of Georgia, 97 percent of students are on the HOPE Scholarship; at Georgia Tech, 96 percent.
The first year the program was in place, only 35 percent of HOPE recipients attended college in Georgia, Newsome said. Last year, that share climbed to 77 percent.
Georgia pays for this program through a “Lottery for Education,” which raises $500 million dollars for three state programs.
Glendening’s legislation would take effect in the 1998-’99 academic year.
According to Patricia S. Florestano, secretary of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, Maryland HOPE would cost $900,000 to start up.
Once the commission begins accepting applications in January 1998, it estimates that 4,000 students will be eligible at a cost of $16 million. Projections indicate that number will eventually grow to 11,000 students at a cost of $45 million to $48 million per year.
Glendening and Florestano believe the HOPE scholarship will keep the state’s brightest and best students living in Maryland to raise their families and have careers. Alex Pruner, 17, a junior at Broadneck High School in Anne Arundel County and president of the Maryland Association of Student Councils, said the scholarship also benefits students now. “They will work hard — can work hard — if they know that something is out there for them,” she told lawmakers. -30-