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Mayor Gray and OSSE Announce First-Ever DC College Fund

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mayor Gray and OSSE Announce First-Ever DC College Fund

Mayor’s Scholars Fund Will Provide Need-Based Grants to District Students Attending Area Institutions; Now Includes UDC, Community College

WASHINGTON, DC – Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced today that, starting this fall, DC students will have the opportunity to receive need-based financial support from the city government while attending colleges and universities in the District. The grants come through the inaugural Mayor’s Scholars Fund, announced at Trinity Washington University today by Mayor Gray and representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

The announcement marks the first local need-based-grant program for DC students that can be applied toward the cost of attending the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and the UDC Community College (UDCCC). DC students attending private colleges and universities in the District were already eligible to receive awards of up to $2,500 from the DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) program, and the Mayor’s Scholars Fund will provide additional assistance.

“One of the goals of my One City Action Plan is ensuring that all of our residents have access to a quality education, and today’s announcement means it will be easier for many District students to obtain a university or community college degree,” said Mayor Gray. “It’s a wise investment in our students, our workforce and our city’s future.”

Students’ eligibility for the program will be based on current undergraduate enrollment in a DC college or university, good academic and disciplinary standing, established District residency and verified financial need.

The Mayor’s Scholars Fund will be managed by the OSSE Division of Postsecondary Education. Approximately 185 resident students ages 18-24 will receive financial assistance under the program this fall, with grants ranging from up to $3,000 at UDCC, up to $7,000 at UDC and up to $10,000 for students attending private DC universities. 

“Creating a college-going culture begins with instilling the idea that college is an important and attainable aspiration, regardless of one’s financial situation,” said State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley Jones. She noted that the program builds on the OSSE-administered DCTAG program by expanding assistance to the District’s only public institutions of higher learning and boosting the assistance offered to students who choose to attend one of the many private colleges and universities in the city.

Mayor Gray established the program by adding a $1.59 million item to the District’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget. Mahaley Jones said the Mayor’s Scholars Fund will begin subsidizing on-campus dual-enrollment courses for high school students in DC Public Schools and DC Public Charter Schools later in the fiscal year. It will also showcase OSSE’s Smart College Choice Initiative, a strategic partnership aimed to promote college readiness and completion with institutions that enroll, retain and graduate the highest numbers of DCTAG participants.

“We are stepping up to meet the needs of District students and ensuring they are college-ready, can afford tuition once they enroll, and graduate to prosperous lives and careers,” Mahaley Jones said. “By expanding students’ local college choices and financial accessibility, we also expand their opportunities for success.”

Joining Mayor Gray and the State Superintendent were Trinity Washington University President Patricia McGuire, UDC President Alan Sessoms, Howard University President Sidney Ribeau and 2012-2013 Mayor’s Scholars. To date, Trinity has the highest number of four-year college graduates from the DC TAG program and retains over 70 percent of its first-year students. Nearly half – 45 percent – of its student body is composed of DC residents, including 35 percent of its students who hail from Wards 7 and 8.