Why not keep scholars in Maryland?

May 15, 2011

I read with great concern that the Maryland Distinguished Scholar program is being phased out, likely for good. This grant helped put me through college at a time when my parents had very little money to send me. They were not poor — my father was a rural mail carrier in Carroll County. Yet I was the fifth of six children and the only one to go to college.

I had to do it myself if it was going to happen, and getting good grades in school and working hard allowed me make my own destiny, in no small part thanks to this scholarship. There are plenty of families in this college-care gap (much like the Medicare donut-hole gap) that receive little need-based financial aid yet don't have deep pockets to save up large amounts for college.

Like so many other youths from middle-class families, I somehow cobbled it all together — taking on loans and finding summer jobs, etc. A letter penned by a former chairman of the Maryland Higher Education Commission was even more distressing ("Distinguished Scholar program deserved to be cut," May 13) in its lack of foresight and relative pettiness. Why not keep top scholars here? Students need every incentive to excel and fund a college career in Maryland.

I hope that as the state budget crisis resolves, Maryland will again find a way to put their money where its goals are in bringing excellence to higher education and allowing us to compete in a global economy. My Maryland-born children hope so, too.

Joanne C. Simpson, Towson

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