Maryland’s new Community College Promise program

pays tuition for eligible students.

NEW: Promise program requirements were recently revised and are currently being finalized. There were 2 key changes, of interest to students and families, made to the Promise program during spring 2020.

  1. Promise recipients are no longer required to work full-time and pay Maryland income taxes after completing their college program. This obligation will be waived for students who had previously committed to it. (This former requirement, called the “service requirement” or “service obligation” used to require Promise recipients to commit to working FT and paying MD state income taxes for a specified time period.)
  2. Eligibility is no longer limited to students who graduated from high school or completed their GED less than 2 years before applying. (Applicants must still meet all other eligibility criteria.)

The Promise

  • Is a need-based financial grant for eligible middle-income families, funded by the State of Maryland.
  • Pays tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students to enroll full-time at their local Maryland community college.
  • Is not available to all community college students. Eligibility requirements are listed below.
  • Is a new program that’s recently expanded to include career training programs. Further updates are expected so please check with your community college for the most current information. This web page is accurate as of April 2020.

If you find that you are not eligible for the Promise program, remember that Maryland’s community colleges offer 100s of academic and career-focused degrees, licenses and certifications.

Every year our community colleges enroll hundreds of thousands of students.
Click to find out Why Community College.

The Promise – stuff you need to know.

To be eligible:

  • Apply for Promise funding no later than March 1st of planned college enrollment year.
  • Have an unweighted, cumulative high school GPA of 2.3 or higher by the end of first semester senior year, or at graduation.
  • Have a household income of:
    • $100,000, or less, if single or living in a single-parent household, or
    • $150,000, or less, if married or living in a two-parent household.
  • Be eligible for in-state tuition. Unsure? Click here to contact your local community college admissions office.
  • Enroll full-time at a Maryland community college after high school graduation or GED completion. Note: “Full-time” is defined slightly differently for career training students. Discuss details with your local community college.
  • Apply annually by March 1st.

Eligibility does not guarantee award.


Community college Career

Cybersecurity Technician

Education required: Certificate —> Associate degree
Starting salary: $48,580*  —  Average salary: $90,500*
*Salaries are Maryland averages and may be higher or lower in different areas of the state.

A bit more Promise stuff to know.

To apply:

  • Submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or MSFAA* (Maryland State Financial Aid Application) by March 1st. Students may submit the MSFAA* if ineligible to submit the FAFSA.
  • March 1st is the deadline to apply for the Community College Promise and several other Maryland college financial aid programs. Submitting the FAFSA or MSFAA by March 1st means you will be considered for the Promise program as well as several other valuable financial aid programs.
  • List your community college on your FAFSA or MSFAA to ensure your application is considered for the Promise program. If you did not list your community college on your FAFSA last March, contact your community college and ask how to be sure MHEC reviews your application for Promise funding.

*NOTE: The above MSFAA link connects to the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s (MHEC) FAQ page on the MSFAA. The FAQ page includes a link for users to set up a Maryland College Aid Processing (MDCAPS) account which is where the MSFAA form is located.


Community college → Career

Heavy Equipment Mechanic

Education required: Certificate
Starting salary: $36,005* — Average salary: $51,111*
*Salaries are Maryland averages and may be higher or lower in different areas of the state.

And more Promise stuff you should know.

Eligible programs:

Maryland’s Community College Promise program can cover tuition for:

  • Associate degrees
  • Approved certificate programs
  • Registered apprenticeships
  • Career training – includes credit or noncredit course sequences that lead to licensure or certification*

*Discuss career training enrollment options with Admissions and Financial Aid staff at your local community college. Some criteria for ‘credit and noncredit course sequences leading to licensure or certification’ is still under review at Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). The above information is accurate as of April 2020, but students should check with their local community college for details.

Maintaining Eligibility

Prior Promise recipients can remain eligible by:

  • Applying annually by March 1 (Students may receive Promise funds for up to 3 consecutive years.),
  • Maintaining full-time enrollment as defined by their course of study,
  • Maintaining a minimum, cumulative GPA of at least 2.5, and
  • Continuing to meet income requirements.

Promise fund recipients pursuing an academic degree at community college and planning to transfer and obtain a bachelor’s degree, may stay and earn their associate degree (usually 60 credits) before transferring, but they don’t have to. However, they do need to complete at least 48 credit hours at community college before transferring to a 4-year institution or they risk losing some of the benefits offered by the Promise program.


Community college → Career

Dental Hygienist

Education required: Associate degree
Starting salary: $36,550*  —  Average salary: $82,247*
*Salaries are Maryland averages and may be higher or lower in different areas of the state.