Advertisement

Our View

Swartz's tuition idea deserves fair hearing

Swartz's tuition idea deserves fair hearing

November 18, 2002

With his time as a Washington County Commissioner running out, Paul Swartz has proposed that the county board dip into its reserves and call on businesses to help provide free tuition for up to 1,000 students at Hagerstown Community College. Swartz's plan isn't fully formed - he says the next board can fill in the details - but we feel it's worth a look.

HCC now charges $77 per credit hour or about $2,530 a year for tuition. Raising such amount does not seem an unbearable burden for most students who live at home. But for those who are already working and have families, a scholarship might mean the difference between going to college or not.

Our strong suggestion would be that if the county board does okay this, that the money not be provided as a direct subsidy from the general fund, but invested through the Community Foundation of Washington County, Inc.

Advertisement

The commissioners could then donate funds and challenge the business community and private citizens to do the same, during a $10 million - or more - fund drive that would explain the benefits of helping others get an education. Once the fund was established, it would generate enough interest to send many students to HCC each year.

Who would get the scholarships? They could be set up like the PROMISE scholarships in West Virginia, where students have to earn a B average in hgih school to qualify. That might be a problem for those who've only recently become serious about getting an education. The system could be set up so such students also got scholarships, but only after successfully completing one semester's work.

As we noted in August, 30 percent of Frederick County residents have four-year degrees, as opposed to just 14.6 percent here and Frederick County's median income is $60,276, $20,000 higher than Washington County's figure. The linkage between those two facts is obvious.

Swartz may have lost this election, but even though many details have to be worked out, his basic idea is a winner. The next board should give it a serious look.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|