Too many low-income Marylanders do not reach their full potential, because they fail to enroll at a college that best meets their academic aspirations. Last week, Maryland’s independent colleges and universities took a bold step to make college a reality for low-income Marylanders.
The Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA) and the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) launched an innovative public/private partnership, known as the Guaranteed Access Partnership Program (GAPP), to reduce college costs and moderate student debt for Maryland high school graduates who lack the financial resources to afford an independent institution.
“Every MICUA institution is committed to providing college access to low-income students,” said Roger Casey, Chair of the MICUA Board and President of McDaniel College. “In fact, some MICUA members were founded on this mission. I am pleased to join my fellow presidents in embracing this proposal and making this commitment to partner with the State to serve financially challenged and capable Maryland students.”
Students from families in the highest income quartile are eight times more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree by age 24 than students from families in the lowest income quartile. “GAPP is about bridging that gap by targeting institutional financial aid to Maryland students who need it most and educating students and families about these life-changing opportunities,” said Tina Bjarekull, President of MICUA.
GAPP requires participating MICUA institutions to provide a matching grant to recipients of a State Guaranteed Access (GA) Grant. GA grants are available to low-income high school seniors who complete a college preparatory program with a 2.5 grade point average and enroll full-time as undergraduate students at an eligible Maryland institution. This year, GA recipients may receive a maximum award of $17,500. The award may be renewed annually for three years.
To be eligible for a GAPP award, the student must apply for a GA grant, complete the financial aid application process as required by the institution, demonstrate eligibility for need-based grant assistance, and maintain eligibility for the State GA grant. The matching GAPP award will not exceed the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees.
Students who receive a GA grant and a matching GAPP award from a participating MICUA member institution may receive more than $35,000 annually to cover the costs of higher education. Through this public-private partnership, low-income Marylanders will have access to a diverse array of high-quality institutions at an affordable cost.
MICUA and its participating institutions also made a commitment to educate the general public and prospective students about the Program by working with MHEC and various stakeholders who work directly with low-income Marylanders on college access and affordability.
Maryland’s independent colleges and universities offer more than 1,400 approved academic programs at 180 locations throughout Maryland, and they boast the highest retention and graduation rates in the State. Moreover, these colleges and universities have demonstrated great success in serving at-risk students. The MICUA institutions provide programs and wrap-around services to support students, such as summer bridge programs, counseling and support services, tutoring, mentoring, college and career advising, internships, networks, and much more. GAPP will allow more low-income Marylanders access to these exceptional opportunities.
Additional information is available here: GAPP FAQ.