St. Mary's set to offer funding for city grads

College scholarship program will offer $3,000 to about 25 Baltimore students

Officials hope to boost minority recruitment

July 18, 2005|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

St. Mary's College of Maryland will announce today a $1.5 million scholarship program for Baltimore City students that college officials hope will boost minority enrollment and the city's future.

"As a public institution, we see our mission very much as helping the entire state and one of the most underserved areas is Baltimore City," said college President Jane Margaret O'Brien.

About 10 Baltimore students enroll annually at St. Mary's, O'Brien said. School officials have been looking for ways to increase that number for several years.

Last fall, the France-Merrick Foundation offered the school a $250,000 donation if St. Mary's could raise $750,000. The school raised the sum in about five months and then received another $500,000 donation several months ago, officials said.

The school can fund about 25 scholarships, worth $3,000 each, starting this fall, said Salvatore Meringolo, St. Mary's vice president of development. Tuition, room and board for an in-state resident at the prestigious public college on the waterfront in Southern Maryland is about $18,900 annually.

Another, smaller scholarship program for Baltimore students was established at the school in 2003.

St. Mary's officials plan to market both programs aggressively in the city. "We want them to hear about it and say, `Hey, this is something I could use,'" O'Brien said.

Students must be accepted at the school, where the average incoming freshman has a 3.45 GPA and scores almost 1250 on the SAT. Baltimore students will not be guaranteed financial aid, St. Mary's officials said, but they are "pretty confident with this amount of funding that we can ensure students they will get what they need," O'Brien said.

St. Mary's officials hope the program will attract more minorities to the school. Less than 10 percent of St. Mary's nearly 1,500 students are African-American, according to state statistics.

St. Mary's officials say that their school, which is known for small classes and personal attention, is an ideal place for minority students.

About 45 percent of African-American students graduate from public colleges within six years, according to state statistics. Nearly 75 percent of African-American students at St. Mary's graduate in that time, according to the state. "We think we're the best bet for Baltimore City students," Meringolo said.

Many hope that students will return to Baltimore after graduating and will contribute to the city. Robert Schaefer, executive vice president of the France-Merrick Foundation, said, "There's a good chance that some of the students will come back ... and make a difference."

St. Mary's is one of several colleges to target Baltimore students. The Johns Hopkins University began guaranteeing full tuition to any city public high school graduate who was accepted to the school.

Thirty students accepted Hopkins' offer, far above the 10 Baltimore residents who normally enroll at the university each year.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.