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Maryland, Too, Has Viable Alternative to ‘Free’ College

 

The Chronicle of Higher Education

August 17, 2016

 

To the Editor:

I read with interest and enthusiasm SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s recent commentary, “Free College? The U.S. Should Look at State Models That Are Already Working” (The Chronicle, August 16). Finding realistic, timely answers to the problems of student-loan debt and college affordability is going to take much more than throwing “free” around as a viable solution, and Chancellor Zimpher’s examples of SUNY’s proactive models are an excellent start.

Here in Maryland, the newly launched Guaranteed Access Partnership Program (GAPP) is a public-private partnership that is successfully helping low-income students achieve their dreams of higher education without taking on debilitating debt. The Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA) and the Maryland Higher Education Commission have teamed up to reduce costs for low-income students who otherwise would not be able to afford an education at an independent institution. Students who qualify for a Guaranteed Access (GA) grant from the state — most of them eligible for federal Pell grants also — will receive a matching grant from MICUA colleges and universities. Eligible students can receive up to $35,800 annually to cover the cost of tuition and fees by combining the GA and a matching grant from a MICUA institution like Washington College. The award can be renewed annually for three years, and GAPP also allows students to combine other scholarships with it.

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