Testifying Before Maryland Assembly

Maryland Alliance Testifies Before Maryland Assembly to Remove Barriers for Low-Income Students

First Generation College Bound (FGCB) has joined with other organizations throughout Maryland to form the Maryland Alliance for College Affordability and Equity (Maryland Alliance).

The Maryland Alliance is a coalition of non-profit organizations across Maryland that assist students from low-income, first-generation, and marginalized families in pursuing the promise of higher education. The goal of the Maryland Alliance is to remove systemic, administrative, legal, and regulatory barriers limiting low-income students’ access to college.

In February 2023, FGCB President Joe Fisher – who serves as the Chair of the Maryland Alliance -- testified at the Maryland Assembly in support of two legislative proposals, HB 923 and SB 662. Janice Doyle, an adviser to the Maryland Alliance, also testified in support of the legislation. These bills made changes to Maryland’s need-based financial aid programs to remove barriers for low-income students, allowing them to qualify more readily for awards and making financial aid more accessible to a greater number of people.

We need to get these programs right for the communities we serve, not just for the moment but for future generations. That is why we felt it important to advocate for removing the financial aid barriers for students attending college and graduating.

Some of the legislation provisions highlighted in the Maryland Alliance testimony:

Changes to the Guaranteed Access Grants awards

  • Elimination of the requirement to enroll within one year of high school graduation.
  • Elimination of the requirement to be under the age of 22 to receive a grant award.
  • Elimination of the college prep requirement.
  • Elimination of the 2.5 GPA requirement.

Changes to the Next Generation Scholarship Program

  • Allows students who are eligible for the federal free lunch program to be eligible for services.
  • Allows students who have been in the program for at least a year to continue participating if they move to another Maryland county, even if the county does not qualify for the Next Generation Scholarship program.

Changes to the Promise Scholarship Program

  • Makes the Promise Scholarship a campus-based program where certification of eligibility for new and renewal awards is handled at the college level (rather than at the Maryland Higher Education Commission level).
  • Allows awards for students who enroll for at least six credits per semester.
  • Provides that community colleges verify the income of applicants using federal standards.

By expanding the universe of students eligible for these financial aid programs, we are removing barriers that often hinder college success for many low-income students.

The Maryland Alliance will continue identifying barriers and advocating for changes with State policymakers and agencies. We will continue to provide a voice for students from low-income and first-generation families and work to improve their access to higher education.

Advocacy in action.  Joe Fisher leads a group of advocates at the Maryland Assembly where he testified on behalf of the Maryland Alliance for College Affordability and Equity on legislation to make needs-based financial aid more accessible to low-income students“The Alliance believes that improvements in the state’s need-based financial aid programs – Educational Assistance Grant (EAG), Guaranteed Access Grant (GAG), Next Generation Scholars program (NGS), and the Promise Scholarship – are crucial and will make a significant impact on the future of thousands of Marylanders and the state’s economy. Alliance members have significant experience working in the community with students from low-income families, and we believe that experience makes us a valuable resource as we work to improve the higher education pipeline for low-income students today and generations to come.”