Maryland Gov. Hogan will sign bill offering many community college students free tuition

Gov. Larry Hogan will sign a bill next week offering a chance for a free community college education to thousands of Marylanders, his spokeswoman said.

Under the legislation passed in the final minutes of this year’s General Assembly session, the state would spend $15 million a year on scholarships worth as much as $5,000 to low- and middle-income students starting their community college educations.

The measure also calls for allotting about $2 million over five years for grants to help cover tuition for older students who are close to finishing degrees and need financial help.

Hogan had previously been noncommittal when asked about the legislation, which passed on mostly party-line votes and by veto-proof margins in both chambers of the assembly.

"The governor remains committed to helping more students achieve their educational goals and looks forward to signing this bill into law,” spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said.

Free community college initiatives have spread across the state and the country in recent years, as many students struggle with high levels of loan debt. Similar programs have been launched in Baltimore, Baltimore County and parts of the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, and in states including New York, Tennessee, Oregon and Minnesota.

The programs are viewed as politically popular, but experts say it’s still unclear if they are effective at increasing levels of education or stimulating the economy.

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