Maryland is the first state to outlaw scholarship displacement by public colleges. (Courtesy photo)

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Maryland officially became the first state to ban scholarship displacement by public colleges.

Under the new law approved earlier this month, conditions under which colleges and universities can decrease financial aid based on a student’s scholarships are now limited, which may prove to be especially helpful for minorities.

Tameka Witcher, a third-year student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, welcomes the new financial break.

“Accessing funds for college is hard,” Witcher said. “I’m always looking for scholarships and loans to help offset costs, but I am always disgruntled whenever my financial aid is affected due to my hard work in searching for additional money. Now I feel a little more relieved knowing that I can perhaps take my search a step further and really pay off these loans.”

Though the Maryland ban currently only affects state colleges and universities, lawmakers are also considering plans to pursue private institutions as well. Under federal law, a student who wins a private scholarship after receiving a financial aid package from a university must report the scholarship to their institution, some of which then reduces the student’s aid equivalent to the scholarship amount — much to the dismay of many students.

“I work hard to get into college, I worked hard to get these loans and I worked even harder to get these scholarships,” said Danielle Hicks, a student at Bowie State University. “Hopefully this law will benefit those students who need it the most and make it easier for such as myself to go to college and feel comfortable that their bills are paid for.”

Officials for the Owings Mills, Maryland-based Central Scholarship organization deemed the passage of the new act as an urgent matter, citing the increased cost of higher level education.

“We all view it as a matter of equity,” said Jan Wagner, president of Central Scholarship. “For someone who went out and beat the bushes and pounded the pavement and submitted applications to try and get additional grants and make college affordable, the net result of their efforts is zero. That’s unfair. Especially when we’re talking about low-income and middle-income students.”

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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