By andrei Blakely
ANNAPOLIS – Two parts of the state’s HOPE Scholarship program may need retooling to bring in more recipients, a key House subcommittee determined Tuesday.
The State Scholarship Administration briefed members of the House Education Subcommittee on the list of subjects the general HOPE and Science and Technology scholarships reward, and the success of the HOPE teacher scholarship.
HOPE scholarships are assistance programs geared toward keeping high- achieving high school students in Maryland for college. The general HOPE scholarship, which began this year, and the science and technology scholarship, now two years old, provide $3,000 a year for qualifying students attending four- year institutions. The Maryland teacher scholarship began this year providing $5,000 for students attending four-year programs.
“I am a little worried about (the) science and technology (program), not getting the word out,” said Delegate James W. Campbell, D-Baltimore, subcommittee chairman. “I think we’ve made a good start with Gov. Glendening’s (HOPE scholarship plan). We would like to see it expanded.”
Campbell said the subcommittee is trying to determine whether action will be needed during the General Assembly beginning in January to improve the HOPE program.
The HOPE scholarships were designed to keep talented students in the state and to provide workers in fields where there is high demand and insufficient supply.
“HOPE is one of many tools in the arsenal. I would not think that our program will solve the (worker shortage) problem (by itself),” said Karen Johnson, secretary of higher education.
The science and technology scholarship has been a particular problem. More than 50 percent of applicants failed to meet the 3.0 grade point average requirement, said Johnson. Just $2 million of the $5.1 million available last year was claimed, leading lawmakers to cut funding cut to $4.7 million this year.
Family income was the problem for the general HOPE scholarship. Eligible student family incomes could not exceed $80,000, Johnson said, and many applicant incomes were above the cap. This year there were 874 applicants, and 173 awards. The general HOPE carried an appropriation of $2.4 million, but so far only $441,000 has been awarded.
“We will monitor the (general HOPE) plan and get the word out. We will monitor to see if changes (need to be made),” said Campbell. “(We will) look at the eligibility requirement. It might not be money. It might be the academic requirements.”
The general HOPE scholarship is already in the midst of an expansion. It now funds majors in the health professions, business and management and public affairs. In fiscal year, 2002 majors in social sciences, fine and applied arts, foreign languages, letters, psychology, communications, agriculture and natural resources and home economics will be added. Then, in fiscal year 2003, the scholarship will incorporate interdisciplinary studies, theology, area studies, legal studies and architecture and environmental resources. -30- CNS-10-17-00