Feds Grant MD Community Colleges Funds for CDL Programs

Baltimore County and Prince George’s community colleges receive tuition grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation for commercial driver’s license programs.

On October 11, U. S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg awarded Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) and the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) federal grants for their respective commercial driver’s license programs (CDL). The funds, which will serve as tuition grants for students enrolled in the CDL programs, are to prioritize the cost of tuition for veterans, refugees, and the underserved.

Secretary Buttigieg visited Prince George’s Community College on Wednesday, October 11, to highlight the impact of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that expands job opportunities in the trucking industry for veterans, members of the military, those in refugee and underserved communities, and others.

PGCC received $173,640 and CCBC $197,410. The federal funds come from USDOT’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training (CMVOST) grant program and the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law provides $550 billion in federal investment over fiscal years 2022 through 2026 in the nation’s infrastructure, including USDOT’s Safe Streets and Roads for All program to support projects to reduce traffic fatalities.

Speaking at PGCC, Secretary Buttigieg said:

This funding will pay for dozens of students to get six weeks of hands-on, one-on-one training. The students who train here have an outstanding completion rate going on to find work in the trucking industry … all of this is coming through President Biden’s historic infrastructure law.

USDOT’s CMV Program provides funding for enhanced operator training in the safe use of CMVs, prioritizing training current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including National Guard members, Reservists, and certain military family members. Program goals include increasing the number of CDL holders possessing enhanced operator safety training, reducing the severity and number of CMV crashes on U.S. roads, and assisting current or former members of the United States Armed Forces to transition to the commercial vehicle industry. Eligible uses include tuition assistance for qualified military personnel and their family members at accredited commercial driver training institutions. Eligible applicants include trainers within state, local, and Tribal governments, post-secondary educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations.

Maryland counties bolster CDL industries

CDLs are required to operate large vehicles, including school buses, large delivery trucks, shuttles, and tractor-trailers. In recent years, industries utilizing these large vehicles have struggled to hire and retain CDL drivers. In the last few years, Maryland has experienced a particularly acute issue with school bus driver vacancies.

Several Maryland counties have worked to ease CDL licensing education and training processes and to streamline the hiring of CDL holders in education, public works, and other industries. In March 2023, Baltimore City began offering $10,000 bonuses to existing and new employees of the City’s Departments of Public Works, Transportation, Recreation and Parks, and General Services hired to perform jobs that require a CDL by these agencies.

In 2022, the Carroll County Commissioners awarded a contract to Carroll Community College to provide CDL-A training in Carroll County for up to six students for $31,000.00 ($5,166.67 each). An additional (6) students can be added for $31,800.00 ($5,300.00 each) for a total cost of $62,800.00 for twelve (12) students. Funds for the contract are available through the American Rescue Plan Act awarded to Carroll County Workforce Area.

In 2021, Howard County implemented a series of incentives for hiring and retaining school bus drivers, including offering in-house CDL training.

Learn more about the USDOT CDL grants.