Maryland’s new Community College Promise program

pays tuition for eligible students.

The Promise

  • Is a need-based financial aid program for eligible middle-income families, funded by the State of Maryland.
  • Pays tuition 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 up-to-date information. Information on this webpage is accurate as of February 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:

  • Enroll full-time at a Maryland community college within two years after high school graduation or GED completion.
  • 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 at the end of first semester senior year.
  • 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.
  • Commit to obtain full-time employment within 1 year after completing college, retain employment and pay Maryland income taxes for a time equal to the time period Promise funds were received.
    • Deferments are available in some cases, including transfer to a 4-year college.
    • Students may work outside of Maryland and maintain Maryland residency.
    • For students who want to live out-of-state, this requirement may be met by repayment as a student loan.
  • 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 Financial 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. By submitting the FAFSA or MSFAA by March 1st you will be considered for the Promise program as well as other valuable financial aid programs.
  • List your community college on your FAFSA or MSFAA to ensure your application is considered for the Promise program.

*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 new MSFAA form will be available on November 15, 2019.


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
  • Credit or noncredit sequence of courses that leads to licensure or certification*

*Discuss enrollment plans with Admissions and Financial Aid staff at your local community college. The Promise program is new and 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 February 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. Earning 48 credits before transferring means Promise funds received will not convert to a loan; it also delays the service obligation* until after students complete their bachelor’s degree.

*service obligation – a current requirement that within 1 year after completing their course of study, Promise recipients commit to work full-time and pay Maryland state income taxes for a time equal to the time period they received the Promise funds.


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.