Students who receive state scholarships could be notified this month that their grants have been cut, or terminated, under a cost-saving measure proposed by Maryland Secretary of Higher Education Shaila Aery.
Aery's recommendation to cut $2.8 million from the $11.4 million General State Scholarship program is being considered by Gov. William Donald Schaefer as he ponders ways to reduce a $242 million budget deficit.
The General State Scholarship serves about 10,000 students and is awarded by need, academic achievement and jurisdiction. The main criterion for awarding the scholarships, however, is need, Jeffrey R. Welsh, a spokesman for the Maryland Higher Education Commission, said yesterday.
Welsh said it was still undetermined how many students would be affected by the proposed cut, which would take effect in January.
"We had to cut $10 million and there weren't many areas left to cut," Welsh said. "We would notify the students as soon as possible, but we're waiting for some decision to be made between the governor and the legislature."
There is no plan yet, however, to cut the $5.4 million state legislative scholarship program under which state senators and delegates award scholarships. Any decision to cut this program would have to be made by legislators, Welsh said.
In seeking ways to trim the deficit, Schaefer and his budget officials cut about $40 million in spending for higher education, which had enjoyed increased funding for the last two years after the General Assembly approved a major restructuring.
One major focus of the restructuring was to make college affordable to Maryland students. The proposed cuts in the General State Scholarship program may hamper that goal.
"The Cabinet was asked by the governor to propose areas where cuts could be made," Welsh said somberly. "This was among the cuts."