The CollegeBound Foundation, a non-profit group that has helped hundreds of Baltimore students pay for college, has run out of grant money for new students this year -- the first time in its four-year history that demand has outstripped supply.
That means that CollegeBound could be forced to turn down some two dozen eligible students, said Joyce Kroeller, its executive director.
Ms. Kroeller said more students than ever sought help from CollegeBound this year, in part because more are learning about its existence.
Meanwhile, the group faces a $150,000 deficit in the fiscal year that started July 1 because investment income has been lower than expected.
While CollegeBound is raising money to erase the deficit, it has no plans to exceed the $75,000 already budgeted and granted to new students this year.
Among those left out in the cold is 17-year-old Kelly Davis, a recent graduate of Baltimore City College high school.
She had been counting on a grant of about $900 from CollegeBound, which is funded by Baltimore City, area businesses and non-profit organizations.
Ms. Davis had worked with CollegeBound employees all year. But, after she gained admission to Bowie State University this summer, she found out that the money would not be there.
"I have no idea what we'll do," said Ms. Davis, who lives with her mother, a court clerk.
She and other students may be forced to take out larger federal student loans that are still available, or work longer hours during the school year.
Ms. Davis had planned to take out a loan of $2,625 to pay her Bowie State bill of $7,913. An additional loan may not be practical, she said.
Other students may end up in the same squeeze. Ms. Kroeller said nearly a dozen have been turned down already, and she expects at least a dozen more to lose out unless someone comes forward with donations specifically for them.
"I think it means those students won't get to college," she said.
The money crunch is a sign of growing pains for CollegeBound, founded in 1988 by the Greater Baltimore Committee to help city public school students make it to college.
The foundation awards so-called "last dollar" scholarships ranging from $200 to $2,000 to students who have put together nearly enough money and other aid to pay for college.
This year, CollegeBound will award $200,000 in grants to 150 students returning to college, and $75,000 in grants to 56 new students.
In previous years, CollegeBound had grant money available for new students late in August and even into September, said Ms. Kroeller. This year, the money was given out by Aug. 14.
The group also is mounting a fund-raising effort to bridge a projected $150,000 deficit in its $750,000 budget for the current fiscal year. Ms. Kroeller said that interest earned on the group's $7 million endowment has fallen short of projections.