New Affordable 3D Scholars Degree Program

by: Shantella Y. Sherman Special to the AFRO ssherman@afro.com
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University of Maryland University College (UMUC), Prince George’s Community College (PGCC), and Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS)launched a pilot scholarship program. The Prince George’s 3D Scholars Program offers high-achieving Prince George’s County high school students the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree from UMUC for $10,000 or less.  The program has the potential of making college affordable for countless Black families with minimal debt.

Prince George’s Community College President Charlene M. Dukes is an advocate of the county’s 3D Scholarship program. (Courtesy Photo)
Prince George’s Community College President Charlene M. Dukes is an advocate of the county’s 3D Scholarship program. (Courtesy Photo)

The initiative allows qualified high school students to earn dual credits toward an associate’s degree at PGCC, transfer to UMUC and earn a bachelor’s degree. The program was announced to the public on Nov. 15. The first cohort of scholars is expected to begin in the fall of 2017.

“I speak often about the different and affordable pathways that students in the University System of Maryland can take toward completing their degree. Initiatives such as this agreement between UMUC, Prince George’s Community College, and the Prince George’s school system are a primary example of this innovative approach, making a UMUC degree accessible for no more than $10,000,” Robert L. Caret, chancellor of the University System of Maryland said in a statement regarding the new program.  “This program helps the University System of Maryland maximize value to state taxpayers, by bringing together the resources of three prominent public education partners.”

Total student debt in the United States, at approximately $1.26 trillion, is the second largest consumer debt in the country after mortgages. The average debt of all U.S. college undergraduates, including those who did not take any student loans, is around $16,929 per student, according to new data from student loan news website the Student Loan Report.

Maryland college students currently graduate with an average debt of $14,744, with those students going on to earn median incomes.  With roughly 56 percent of students taking out student loans, fewer than one in 10 indebted graduates in the state default on their loans within three years of leaving school, a smaller share than in most states.  The 3D Program promises to decrease that number.

“Students in the Prince George’s 3D Scholarship Program will begin an academic pathway that produces well-educated graduates, addresses college affordability, and supports a regional workforce,” Charlene M. Dukes, Ph.D., president, Prince George’s Community College, told the AFRO.  “This program responds to the needs of our community, and we are proud to support such a unique opportunity.”

“My wife and I are extremely excited about this program because it will help make college affordable within a quality academic setting,” Silver Spring resident and father of high school freshman Edward Roberts told the AFRO.  “It’s commendable that these various campuses would come together to create a positive platform to help young people matriculate through school responsibly.”

For more information about the Prince George’s 3D Scholars Program and the scholarship requirements, contact 3Dscholars@pgcps.org.

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