Earning a college degree has become an essential component of future success for many Maryland high school graduates. A degree allows for greater earning potential over time, as well as a higher starting point for salaries as a young adult.
However, financing a college education can be an uphill battle for many Maryland students, as the cost of attending a degree program continues to rise each year. Over the last several decades, both public and private colleges and universities have increased costs an average of 5% each year for tuition, according to the College Board statistics, and there is no limit as to how high these expenses may go in the future.
In Maryland, college students have several options for college and university degree programs, with more than 50 public and private institutions throughout the state. More than 187,000 students attend school in Maryland, many of whom utilize student loans, grants, and scholarships to help cover the cost. Maryland college students should take the time to consider each of their options for financing a degree, based on their financial need, ability to repay borrowed funds, and unique skills and attributes that may afford them scholarship opportunities.
Getting Financial Aid for College
Although the price of a college education seems daunting, students in Maryland have several options for financing their degree. Many students lean heavily on student loans as a form of financial aid. This process begins with the submission of the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Through this federal government program, Maryland college students are given detailed information about how much they can borrow using federal student loans.
However, submitting the FAFSA is also crucial to students who plan to pay for their college expenses through other means. This is because many colleges and universities require the FAFSA to be completed in order to help the institution make decisions on other funding available, including grants and merit scholarships.
The FAFSA takes into consideration the total cost of attendance for Maryland students, helping to calculate exactly how much it will cost to attend school for that academic year. Based on this information, students can make more informed decisions on the type of financing they need or can pursue to fund their education goals. When grants and scholarships are not enough to cover the full cost of attendance, students can turn to federal or private student loans as an alternative to fill the gap left by tuition, room and board, and additional fees.
Maryland Student Loans
Federal student loans are often the go-to for Maryland students who need assistance in paying for their college education. In some instances, however, federal student loans do not cover the entire cost of earning a degree. So, Maryland students may turn to Maryland student loans available throughout the private lenders.
These private student loan programs may be beneficial because they often offer more flexibility in terms of the amount available, the repayment terms, and sometimes interest expenses. However, it is necessary to evaluate the need for state-based student loans and the total cost as a Maryland student before selecting this type of financing. Here are a few student loan options offered by institutions in Maryland.
Money One Federal Credit Union
As a member-owned financial institution, Money One Federal Credit Union has been serving Maryland state residents since 1951. The credit union offers private student loans in partnership with the Smart Option Student Loan program by Sallie Mae. Borrowers have access to this private loan up to the total cost of attendance, less other financial aid sources. Students in Maryland may be required to have a co-signer as approval is based on credit history and score. Repayment terms and interest rates for Money One Federal Credit Union student loans are dependent on the individual borrower and co-signer application details.
Educational Systems Federal Credit Union
For more than 60 years, Educational Systems Federal Credit Union has helped Maryland residents meet their financial goals, including financing college costs. The credit union offers private student loans in partnership with Credit Union Student Choice. Only undergraduate students are eligible to apply, but the credit union offers loans to cover the full cost of attendance at more than 2,000 approved schools throughout the country. Student loans through Educational Systems Federal Credit Union offer no origination fees, deferred payment options, and flexible repayment terms for qualified students.
Established in 1951, State Employees Credit Union, SECU, is one of the leading financial institutions in Maryland. The credit union offers private student loans through the Credit Union Student Choice program to help Maryland students fill the gap in education financing through a student credit line of up to $75,000. SECU makes the line of credit available to undergraduate students who have a strong credit history or a co-signer. The credit union offers flexible repayment terms as well as deferment on payment while attending school at least half-time. There are also no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
Maryland College Scholarships
Maryland college scholarships are an alternative to federal and private student loans, and unlike loans, they do not need to be repaid. Students in Maryland can find and apply for scholarships through a variety of sources, including online search platforms, private scholarship organizations, and their preferred college or university.
Scholarships are often granted based on proven scholastic abilities, community involvement, or the student’s unique traits. However, because scholarship applications are highly competitive, students in Maryland should search and apply for awards as early as possible.
Maryland Delegate Scholarship
Maryland high school seniors and current undergraduate college students may apply for the Delegate Scholarship. This award is made available through the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) in the state and is awarded based on financial need determined by the FAFSA. Students may receive up to $11,800 for one academic year, so long as they complete the FAFSA by March 1.
Maryland Senatorial Scholarship
Also made available through OSFA, Maryland high school seniors, undergraduate, and graduate college students may qualify for the Senatorial Scholarship. Awards of up to $11,800 for one academic year are available to students who can show financial need based on their FAFSA submission. The FAFSA application is due by March 1, and the scholarship award may be renewed based on each year’s application.
Edward T. and Mary A. Conroy Memorial Scholarship
Students in Maryland may apply for the Edward T. and Mary A. Conroy Memorial Scholarship directly through their college or university, if the institution participates. This scholarship program offers an award of up to the annual tuition and mandatory fees at a four-year public institution in University System of Maryland. High school seniors, undergraduates, or graduate-level students who meet specific requirements may qualify, so long as applications are submitted by July 15.
Maryland Grants for College
Grants are yet another way to help finance higher education costs. Similar to scholarships, grant funds do not need to be repaid over time. However, some grants do require students to meet specific requirements each year or upon graduation to maintain the funding without a repayment requirement.
Grants are often offered directly through private or public organizations funding the awards, or they are offered based on information included on a student’s FAFSA. Like scholarships, grant awards are highly competitive and should be searched and applied for as early as possible. Here are a few grants available to college students in Maryland.
Howard P Rawlings Guaranteed Access Grant
Maryland students may receive a matching grant award through the Howard P. Rawlings Guaranteed Access Grant Program. Students who enroll in a participating Maryland college or university and demonstrate need-based institutional assistance for covering college costs may qualify. There are specific income thresholds in place for students who apply, based on family contributions as stated on the FAFSA. Maryland students may receive up to 100% of the financial need per year, so long as the FAFSA is submitted by March 1 each year.
Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant Program
High school seniors, undergraduate, and graduate-level students may also qualify for grant funding through the Workforce Shortage Student Assistance program. This grant fund is available to students who plan to pursue a career in child care, human services, teaching, nursing, physical and occupational therapy, social work, or public service. The grant award may be up to $2,000 per year, based on both merit and need. Students only need to complete their FAFSA by March 1 to be considered for the grant funding.
Author: Melissa Horton
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