Grant Opens College Door for Ambitious Low-Income Students

A federal program allows $20 million in Pell Grants to be used towards high school-college dual enrollment programs for low-income students nationwide.

The College of Southern Maryland will now be able to provide some Pell Grants to high school students enrolling in their courses.

As reported by the Washington Post, two Maryland community colleges were invited to participate in a new program that provides grant funding to needy students to cover the costs of dual enrollment at higher education institutions.

The grant seeks to provide more dual enrollment opportunities to low-income and minority students who are currently underrepresented in dual enrollment programs.

From the Post,

Nearly 80 percent of the schools invited to participate in the dual-enrollment experiment are community colleges, including the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata. . . and Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown.

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High school students may take courses at Hagerstown Community College’s STEMM Technical Middle College.

Maryland county governments continue to provide their share of funding for community colleges, which have suffered in recent years from State funding cuts. The funding for community colleges is envisioned to come in equal parts from the county, the state, and student tuition. MACo advocated for legislation this year to put the State on track to reach its intended funding level by 2020. While that bill did not pass, stop-gap programs like this 3-year federal grant will help community colleges to extend their services to more residents.

Hagerstown Community College is happy to have been selected to participate in the program. From their press release:

“This is a great opportunity for low-income students of Washington County, especially those who are enrolled in the STEMM Technical Middle College, which allows college-ready high school students the opportunity to earn college credits and credentials while completing their high school diplomas,” said Carolyn Cox, HCC’s director of financial aid. “Earning a college degree is an increasingly important step towards entering the middle class.”

Hagerstown Community College has one of the strongest dual-enrollment programs in the State, according to the College,

HCC has long offered dual enrollment courses through its ESSENCE Program, but in recent years added another option for high school students through the STEMM Technical Middle College. Between the two programs, approximately 900 high school students are attending HCC and doing college-level course work annually. HCC maintains the highest percentage of dually enrolled high school seniors in Maryland, with approximately 28 percent.

As described by the College of Southern Maryland (CSM),

Dual enrollment allows you to take classes at CSM for college credit, while satisfying your high school graduation requirements.

For more information see the full story from the Washington PostDozens of colleges set to partake in dual-enrollment experimentHCC chosen to participate in dual enrollment Pell Grant experiment, and the College of Southern Maryland Dual Enrollment Program.