Gov. O’Malley Signs Higher Education Bills

ANNAPOLIS (April 26, 2008)—Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on Thursday signed legislation that expands eligibility for the Graduate and Professional Scholarship program, and authorizes the Maryland Higher Education Commission to require an application fee from institutions of postsecondary education that are seeking certification to operate in Maryland. Senate Bill 141 (now Chapter 152, 2008) and Senate Bill 187 (now Chapter 157, 2008) were approved unanimously by the General Assembly.

Chapter 152 expands the eligibility for the Graduate and Professional Scholarship program to eligible students attending institutions of higher education in Maryland that offer first professional degrees in pharmacy.

Before this bill became law, only the University of Maryland, Baltimore currently received funds to provide scholarships to pharmacy students. With the recent addition of a first professional degree in pharmacy at the College of Notre Dame, and with other schools looking to add similar programs, an MHEC spokesman said the State's aim was to expand the Graduate and Professional Scholarship Program to accommodate new post-graduate pharmacy schools.

“I am pleased to see that the General Assembly and Governor saw the importance of strengthening our higher education pharmacy programs and allowing us to provide scholarships to any pharmacy program in the State,” Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr., said. “While this has not yet been identified as a workforce shortage issue in Maryland, it is a national workforce shortage issue that I believe will eventually trickle down to Maryland.”

Chapter 157 authorizes MHEC to charge an application fee from institutions of postsecondary education that are seeking certification to operate in Maryland. Prior to becoming law, such institutions were not allowed to operate in Maryland without a certificate of approval from MHEC. Through regulations, MHEC is authorized to charge application fees to private career schools seeking certification.

“This bill is very important because it helps offset costs for evaluation time at no expense to the state,” said Assistant Secretary for Academic Affairs Dr. George Reid.

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.

Source: Maryland Higher Education Commission

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