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University of Baltimore receives $5 million donation to help community college graduates, veterans pay tuition there

Baltimore Sun - 2/24/2020

The University of Baltimore announced Monday a $5 million donation to help community college graduates and military veterans cover the cost of tuition.

University President Kurt Schmoke said that the Parsons Family Foundation, a nonprofit foundation run by the family of founder and Baltimore native Bob Parsons, will donate $1 million a year over the next five years to a scholarship fund to help an estimated 250 students a year pursue a degree at the four-year university.

Calling it “Complete for Free," Schmoke said the aid will cover the gap in tuition some community college graduates and military veterans face who receive financial aid through the federal Pell Grant program, which Schmoke said does not cover the entire cost of tuition at the university.

The scholarship fund will be available to students who graduate from the state’s community colleges and are eligible to receive funding through the Pell grant, Schmoke said.

The Federal Pell Grant is a grant offered to undergraduate students “who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s graduate, or professional degree,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Military veterans who have completed 60 credits worth of classes at a state community college will also be eligible for the funding. Schmoke said making the funding available to more veterans was part of the stipulation behind Parsons’ donation.

“This is a major gift. It’s the largest gift we’ve received dedicated to scholarships,” Schmoke said.

He was joined by several community college presidents, who spoke about the importance of offering aid to the state’s community college graduates.

Howard Community College President Kathleen Hetherington said many families are hit with “sticker shock” as they look to further their education at four-year colleges.

“For students, the things that stand in their way for success are time and money,” Hetherington said. “These students will be going full-time, so that will accelerate their time to their degree and they’ll have the money available to pay for the second two years. That is quite incredible.”

Dr. Jay Perman, the newly appointed chancellor of the University System of Maryland, spoke of how he’d received a full scholarship to medical school, which his family wouldn’t have otherwise been able to pay for.

“I know what this means to these young people,” Perman said, thanking the Parsons family for the donation.

“Because these young people will get a letter that says ‘Congratulations. Your education is paid for,’” he added.


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