Pell Grants are designed to help families with demonstrated financial need pay college bills. But the maximum annual grant, set at $6,895, falls well short of what U-Md. charges for in-state tuition and fees this school year: $11,232. The Terrapin Commitment would seek to fill in gaps of unmet need after scholarships, grants and family contributions.

The university said about 4,700 full-time students could benefit from the program.

Federal data show that U-Md. has about 31,000 undergraduates, 74 percent of them Maryland residents. Including out-of-state students, about 5,400 U-Md. undergraduates receive Pell Grants.