Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently announced a set of programs meant to lessen the cost of college for Maryland residents. 

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced a new set of programs aimed at increasing college affordability for the state’s residents. The announcement was made earlier this week at the Universities at Shady Grove. During the announcement, the governor was joined by a number of Maryland university presidents and personnel.

During the press release, Governor Hogan acknowledged that 60 percent of Maryland residents graduate from college with student loan debt. This debt often becomes a financial burden that prevents borrowers from buying a home, starting a family, or saving for retirement. 

Hogan says he plans to “provide real and pragmatic solutions” by reintroducing the Student Debt Relief Act as emergency legislation. This would allow Maryland residents to count all student loan interest as a deduction on their yearly tax returns.

Governor Hogan has also proposed expanding the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship Program to include four-year public colleges. Currently, if a student earns an associate degree while maintaining a 2.3 GPA, they will earn free tuition for the remaining two years.

Students are eligible for the Promise Scholarship if their family earns less than $150,000 a year. The program is also available to adults who earn less than $100,000 a year.

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The governor also had good news for families utilizing Maryland 529 savings plans; he plans to double the deduction from $2,500 to $5,000.

All in all, these proposals will add up to $385 million in funding over the next five years. Governor Hogan said he doesn’t plan to cut funding from other programs or increase taxes in order to pay for them.

Governor Hogan also announced the launch of a “SmartStart” initiative for students, graduates, and their families. This program aims to make it easier for borrowers to purchase a home, pay off student loans, and find financial aid programs.

Robert Caret, the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, praised this move by Governor Hogan. “The governor’s vision, which is shared by the University System of Maryland, will create more high-paying jobs in Maryland, more educated citizens to lead the state, and a better quality of life for all.”  

This announcement comes during a time when Governor Hogan is running for re-election in November. His opponent, Ben Jealous, has made college affordability one of the central components of his campaign. Jealous has proposed free community college, free college for students pursuing in-demand professions, and restorative funding for historically black colleges and universities.