Maryland is known for being the birthplace of the American national anthem and for being a great place for quality seafood. It was also the seventh state to become an official state in America.

One thing Maryland should be known for is helping its neediest students afford to attend college. The state and the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) have put together numerous types of financial aid programs to encourage its students to attend in-state postsecondary institutions.

In fact, there are eight need-based grant programs, two legislative scholarships, eight career/occupation-based grants and scholarships, five loan assistance repayment programs and seven other miscellaneous financial aid programs students can qualify to receive.

Four of the financial aid programs that help many students within Maryland’s 10,460 square miles of land and water include the Howard P. Rawlings Guaranteed Access Grant, the Howard P. Rawlings Educational Assistance Grant, the Howard P. Rawlings Campus-Based Educational Assistance Program and the 2+2 Transfer Scholarship.

General Eligibility for Financial Aid Programs

There are a few common eligibility criteria all the students who apply for Maryland financial aid programs must meet. These include:

  • Being a Maryland resident (if the student is a dependent, the student’s parents must also be Maryland residents),
  • Completing and filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1 each year,
  • Completing and filing the Maryland State Financial Aid Application (MSFAA) by March 1 each year if the student is eligible to receive in-state tuition, but is ineligible to receive federal aid, and
  • Being enrolled as a full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate student at an eligible Maryland postsecondary institution.

Howard P. Rawlings Guaranteed Access Grant

The Howard P. Rawlings Guaranteed Access (GA) Grant is a need-based grant that can provide a very lucrative amount of funding to help a Maryland student attend an in-state college. To be eligible for the GA Grant, a Maryland student must meet the general eligibility criteria and must:

  • Be eligible for in-state tuition,
  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding and specific income requirements (see chart below),
  • Be enrolled in 12+ credit hours per semester as a full-time student at an eligible 2-year or 4-year Maryland postsecondary institution,
  • Have an unweighted, cumulative 2.50 high school GPA as a high school senior,
  • Be under 22 years old at the time of high school graduation,
  • Submit all required verification documents to the MHEC by April 1, which can include one, all, or any combination of the following:
    • GED Examination Transcript (if applicable),
    • High School Transcript
      • Which must include at least the first semester of the student’s senior year,
    • Dependent or independent student verification worksheet,
    • Low-income form,
    • Parent/student/spouse IRS tax transcript,
    • Parent/student/spouse Maryland state tax return,
    • Parent/student/spouse W2s, 1099s, or Schedule Cs,
    • Verification of non-filing letter from the IRS for the parent/student/spouse.

A student meets the low-income requirements by falling into the following categories:

A GA Grant recipient can receive funding equal to 100% of the student’s demonstrated financial need, which can be up to $19,400. A recipient can also renew their GA Grant eligibility annually for undergraduate study for up to three years after initially receiving the award.

To be eligible for renewal of the GA Grant, a student must continue to:

  • Be eligible for in-state tuition,
  • Annually file FAFSA or MSFAA by March 1,
  • Meet low-income requirements (living at or below 150% of the federal poverty level),
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student at an eligible Maryland postsecondary institution, and
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress per the student’s institution’s policies.

For students who have completed their second year or more of college, they need to have completed at least 30 credit hours to have the full GA Grant amount reinstated.

For students who have completed 24-29 credit hours beginning with their second year, a prorated GA Grant amount will be reinstated.

Howard P. Rawlings Educational Assistance Grant

The Howard P. Rawlings Education Assistance (EA) Grant is also a need-based grant and it’s open to applicants who are high school seniors who will be going on to become full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students at an eligible postsecondary institution.

To be initially eligible for the EA Grant, a student must meet the general eligibility requirements and demonstrate a financial need which will be ranked by the student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) via the student’s FAFSA.

In this case, financial need is calculated by the formula of:  The college’s cost of attendance minus (EFC plus or minus the regional cost of living adjustment) minus certain state scholarship awards (if applicable) minus the federal Pell Grant (if eligible).

All majors are also accepted when it comes to being eligible for the program as well.

The interesting tidbit about the EA Grant is a student could potentially use EA Grant funding at an out-of-state postsecondary institution if the student is deaf or hearing-impaired AND the postsecondary institution makes special provisions for deaf or hearing-impaired students that are not available at Maryland schools.

To apply for the EA Grant, a student needs to file their FAFSA and/or their MSFAA between the dates of October 1 and March 1 every year.

If a student attends a four-year Maryland postsecondary institution, they can receive funding equal to 40% of the adjusted financial need calculation from above.

If a student attends a two-year Maryland postsecondary institution or community college, they can receive funding equal to 60% of the adjusted financial need calculation from above.

The range of potential EA Grant funding for both types of schools can be a minimum of $400 or a maximum of $3,000.

The EA Grant award amount a recipient receives could fluctuate every year based on the changing numbers in the financial need formula, but that means a student can renew their EA Grant funding every year for up to three additional years. In order to maintain eligibility, a student must:

  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress,
  • Submit FAFSA no later than March 1 each year,
  • Continue to demonstrate a financial need for funding, and
  • Continue to be a full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate student.

Howard P. Rawlings Campus-Based Educational Assistance Grant

The Howard P. Rawlings Campus-Based Educational Assistance Grant (CBEAG) is yet another need-based grant that assists students who were not considered for the EA Grant due to missing the FAFSA and/or MSFAA filing deadline of March 1.

The CBEAG is a state-funded program and the state leaves the decisions about which students to give allotted CBEAG funds to up to the participating postsecondary institutions. In turn, the CBEAG has its very own application that students need to submit. This application can be found in the participating schools’ respective financial aid offices.

If a student meets the general eligibility criteria from above, filed FAFSA and/or MSFAA after March 1 and submits the CBEAG application, they can be eligible to receive CBEAG funding.

The formula to help determine financial need for the CBEAG is like the EA Grant, but it’s a little different. The financial need calculation is:  The college’s cost of attendance minus Estimated Family Contribution plus the cost-of-living adjustment figure minus the federal Pell Grant minus any other state awards.

If a student attends a four-year Maryland postsecondary institution, they can receive funding equal to 40% of the adjusted financial need calculation from above.

If a student attends a two-year Maryland postsecondary institution or community college, they can receive funding equal to 60% of the adjusted financial need calculation from above.

The range of potential CBEAG funding for both types of schools can be a minimum of $400 or a maximum of $3,000.

The CBEAG award amount a recipient receives could vary every year based on the changing numbers in the financial need formula and allotted program funds, though renewal is not guaranteed. The state and the MHEC recommend students file their FAFSA and/or MSFAA well before March 1 every year so they’re not reliant upon CBEAG funding.

2+2 Transfer Scholarship

The 2+2 Transfer Scholarship is also a need-based financial aid program that is built to encourage students to transfer from eligible Maryland community colleges to eligible Maryland four-year postsecondary institutions.

To be eligible for the 2+2 Transfer Scholarship, a student must:

  • Be a Maryland resident (if the student is a dependent, the student’s parents must also be Maryland residents),
  • Be currently enrolled as a full-time or part-time degree-seeking student at a Maryland community college and have earned an associate degree by the end of the semester in which the student is planning to transfer,
  • Submit an official college transcript proving the student has earned an associate degree from their eligible Maryland community college,
  • Be accepted for admission to a degree program at an eligible Maryland public or private, non-profit four-year postsecondary institution,
  • Intend to enroll in order to complete the student’s bachelor’s degree,
  • File FAFSA before March 1,
  • Demonstrate an Estimated Family Contribution of $10,000 or less via FAFSA, and
  • Complete and submit the specific 2+2 Transfer Scholarship to the Maryland College Aid Processing System (MDCAPS).

All majors are eligible to receive the award, but some majors have more of an incentive to apply than others.

Students who are majoring in science, teaching, engineering, computer science, math or nursing will receive $2,000 in funding to put towards tuition and mandatory fees. All other majors will receive $1,000.

It’s possible to renew eligibility for the 2+2 Transfer Scholarship and a student can renew it for up to three years of study or six semesters of study, whichever is longer. In order to renew eligibility, a student must:

  • Continue to be a Maryland resident,
  • Be continuously enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student in a degree program at an eligible Maryland public or private, non-profit four-year postsecondary institution,
  • Maintain a cumulative 2.50 GPA on a 4.00 scale each academic year, and
  • Maintain the academic standards of the postsecondary institution.

Major Colleges in Maryland

Maryland has a plethora of colleges for its in-state residents to attend. Some of the major, four-year public colleges in the state include:

  • Bowie State University in Bowie,
  • Coppin State University in Baltimore,
  • Frostburg State University in Frostburg,
  • Salisbury University in Salisbury,
  • University of Baltimore in Baltimore, and
  • University of Maryland in College Park.

Fun fact:  Maryland was home to the first dental school in America. Now, the colleges in the state could be home to Maryland college students who want to further their education thanks to the generous financial aid programs the state offers.