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Higher Education in Maryland

February 2008 Press Release




MHEC supports extension of popular veterans’
scholarship program at Senate committee hearing

Governor O’Malley has proposed an additional $150,000 in funding for initiative



Annapolis, MD—(February 27, 2008)


With the strong support of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, Senator Rob Garagiola, Senate Veterans Caucus Chair in the General Assembly, yesterday asked the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee to extend a popular scholarship program benefiting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families.

Senate Bill 608, whose lead sponsor is Senator Garagiola has broad bi-partisan support. This legislation would extend the date by which MHEC’s Office of Student Financial Assistance may award an initial Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Scholarship from June 30, 2012 to June 30, 2016.

Senator Garagiola told the committee that he wished he did not have to ask for the extension, but said it was necessary because the two conflicts have raged on longer than he expected when he first introduced the successful legislation in 2006. The original bill (the Veterans Advocacy and Education Act of 2006), which created the program, was cross-filed in the House, co-sponsored and pushed vigorously by Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch and then-delegate and House Majority Whip -- now Lt. Governor Anthony Brown – a decorated veteran of the Iraq conflict among many other delegates and senators. Then-Delegate Brown worked very closely with Senator Garagiola on the bill.

Governor Martin O’Malley included an additional $150,000 in his proposed fiscal 2009 budget to help eliminate the waiting list for this program, which he called “extremely popular.”

The Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Scholarship is available to a member of the uniform services of the United States who served in Afghanistan or contiguous air space as defined in federal regulations on or after October 24, 2001 and or before a terminal date to be determined by the United States Secretary of Defense; or who served in Iraq or contiguous waters or air space as defined in federal regulations on or after March 19, 2003 and before a terminal date to be prescribed by the United States of Defense. Sons, daughters and spouses of these veterans may also apply for the scholarship.

“I applaud the vision of this very important scholarship program,” Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr., said. “This is the least we can do for our brave men and women who have fought or who are continuing to protect our country and for the families of our veterans who wait anxiously for the return of their loved ones. I am pleased that MHEC is so supportive of this proposed legislation and urge a very favorable response. This law was only made possible by then-Delegate and now Lt. Governor Brown, Speaker Busch and a host of other Senators and Delegates on a bi-partisan basis.”

Students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Scholarship application to apply. While the deadline for the scholarship application is March 1, 2008, there are certain exceptions for those currently serving overseas who may not have been able to get their applications filed on time. These students may file an appeal to be considered for the scholarship. For more information on how to apply for this scholarship, veterans and their family members can go to MHEC’s website at www.mhec.state.md.us or call (410) 260-4565

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