ANNAPOLIS -- Marylanders attending Harvard University and Harford Community College have at least one thing in common: Both are losing their state scholarships.
The state is stopping payment on $1.2 million that had been promised to Marylanders attending certain out-of-state universities and another $750,000 earmarked for part-time students here, Maryland Higher Education Secretary Shaila R. Aery said yesterday.
She made those decisions in anticipation of another swing of the budget ax that could cost higher education from $25 million to $100 million. The governor plans to slash a total of roughly $500 million from the state budget this fall to balance the books.
Education officials sent letters this week notifying 1,058 out-of-state students they would not get the money they expected. The grants would have provided each Marylander from $200 to $1,250 during the school year.
The unusual program had offered scholarships to Maryland residents attending colleges and universities in just seven states -- Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont -- and the District of Columbia. They, too, have helped their residents attend school in other states, including Maryland.
But Maryland officials felt the program should be cut because students at public universities here have already felt the recession's pinch through higher tuition costs.
Tuition at schools in the University of Maryland System rose an average of 10 percent during the last school year and probably will rise again in the current school year.
"It's a matter of providing Maryland students access to Maryland schools" vs. the choice of attending out-of-state colleges, Dr. Aery said.
She also stopped funding for a new program that would have provided 1,500 part-time students within Maryland from $200 to $1,000 a year. The money would have gone largely to working people to attend community college part time. Those grants had not yet been awarded.
"None of these cuts are easy, but it was easier to cut a program in which the money had not been allocated than to make additional cuts in other scholarship programs," said Jeffrey R. Welsh, spokesman for the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
What about the students at the out-of-state schools who were counting on their grants?
"We have recommended that they talk to financial aid offices in their colleges as soon as possible," Mr. Welsh replied. "It may be that the institution can arrange some additional financial aid, or they may have to work out an agreement with the school to pay the money when they can."
"Obviously, the kids are going to be upset. That's a good chunk of money," said Doris Torosian, acting financial aid director at Catholic University in Washington, where 60 Marylanders will lose grants.
Financial aid officers in the region said the scholarship cancellation is not a surprise, given the recession and government budget problems.