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Higher Education in Maryland

May 2008 Press Release




Extension of Veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq

Conflicts Scholarship signed into law



(Annapolis, MD) May 23, 2008


Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law yesterday an extension of the Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Scholarship, which the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s Office of Student Financial Assistance administers.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Rob Garagiola (D-Montgomery County) and co-sponsored by a bi-partisan coalition of Senators, extends the deadline for awarding an initial Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Scholarship from June 30, 2012 to June 30, 2016. The legislation was hailed by Governor O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., and House Speaker Michael E. Busch at a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis yesterday.

Senate Bill 608 (Chapter 604 Acts of 2008) passed both the Senate and the House unanimously.

The scholarship was established as part of the Veterans Advocacy and Education Act of 2006. Speaker Busch sponsored the bill in the House in 2006 while Senator Garagiola sponsored it in the Senate. Then-House Majority Whip and now Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown – an Iraq war veteran and Army Colonel -- worked vigorously with Speaker Busch and Senator Garagiola to get the Veterans Advocacy and Education Act of 2006 passed.

“I am so pleased that we were able to extend this scholarship for veterans and their families,” said Senator Garagiola, former member of the U.S. Army Reserves. “This is the least that the state can do to give back to those who have served their country and state so faithfully.”

“I applaud Senator Garagiola and the full Senate and House for their efforts in getting this bill passed without a dissenting vote as well as the strong support the O’Malley/Brown administration gave to this legislation throughout the Session,” Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr., said. “The O’Malley/Brown administration has amassed an extraordinary record on supporting our veterans and this is just one more example of that support that these brave men and women fighting for our safety deserve.”

Governor O’Malley included $150,000 in his FY 2009 budget to eliminate the waiting list for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans applying for this scholarship.

The Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Scholarship Program provides postsecondary undergraduate education scholarships to veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Scholarships may be awarded for five years of full-time study or eight-years of part-time study. In fiscal 2008, 126 veterans received scholarships totaling approximately $600,000 through the program.

Additionally, Governor O’Malley signed Senate Bill 438 (Chapter 569, Acts of 2008) – sponsored by Senator Verna Jones (D-Baltimore City) -- into law yesterday. This legislation requires specified independent institutions of higher education to submit a report regarding cultural diversity programs to the Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA) on or before a specified date each year. It also requires MICUA to submit a report on the status of specified cultural diversity programs to MHEC on a specified date each year. Chapter 569 also directs each Maryland public institution of higher education to develop and implement a plan for a program of cultural diversity. If these campuses already have such a plan, this legislation directs them to develop and implement a plan for improving the program.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and universities and private career schools. It serves as an advocate for more than 325,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.

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