Howard County Executive Ken Ulman joined Howard Community College President Kate Hetherington Friday to announce a new scholarship program that nearly triples the amount of direct aid offered to students.
In front of about 100 students and college and county officials, Ulman unveiled the Pathway Scholarship Program, a $2.5 million initiative funded by Howard County Government that will be offered to students via scholarships and grants.
"I know that on behalf of the 300,000 citizens of Howard County who have entrusted us with their hard earned tax dollars that investing it in HCC is the kind of place, the kind of school, that will make sure those dollars are invested wisely and help each and every one have an opportunity for a pathway to success," Ulman said.
After she was notified that Ulman was planning to include a significant financial contribution for scholarships in his fiscal year 2015 budget, Hetherington began contacting her colleagues throughout the state.
No other community college president was aware of a county commitment as large as the one proposed by Ulman.
"Many of them were quite jealous," Hetherington said.
Ulman has included $2.5 million is his proposed fiscal year 2015 budget that will establish the new scholarship program. Currently, the college distributes about $1.3 million in similar direct aid.
The Howard County Council is scheduled to vote on Ulman's budget May 21, but speaking Friday, council members Calvin Ball and Courtney Watson expressed overwhelming support for the proposal.
"We recognize that higher education is a gateway to opportunity," Ball said.
While the details of the scholarship are still in the works, Hetherington said it will be available to students beginning for the fall semester.
The scholarship will be available to a wide range of students, including high school students who are dual enrolled at the college, students who have run out of federal Pell grant assistance, or military veterans who have run out of benefits.
While the $2.5 million is a one-time commitment from the county, $500,000 will be set aside to be matched with private donations through the HCC Educational Foundation.
Kevin Doyle, Chair of the Howard Community College Board of Trustees, said this program is simply about "helping students from start to finish to reach their goals."
"With nearly 75 percent of HCC students settling in Howard County and contributing to our economy, this funding will yield a significant return on investment," he said.
In his comments Friday, Ulman also pointed out that county funding to the community college has increase from $20.4 million annually to $31 million since he took office in 2006.