D.C. Council approves D.C. Promise college scholarship

The D.C. Council gave final approval Tuesday to a new taxpayer-funded college scholarship program known as D.C. Promise, which will offer high school graduates up to $7,500 per year to help pay for higher education.

David A. Catania (I-At Large), who introduced D.C. Promise and is considering a mayoral bid, has framed it as an effort to both defray the cost of college for low-income students and boost high school graduation rates.

To be eligible, students must come from families earning less than 200 percent of area median income, or about $215,000 for a family of four. Scholarships will be awarded on a sliding scale, with the largest awards going to the students most in need.

Council members passed the measure without debate as part of the consent agenda despite earlier warnings from D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) that a city-funded financial-aid initiative could endanger a popular federal program known as the D.C. Tuition Assistance Program, or D.C. TAG.

President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2015 budget includes $40 million for TAG, up from $30 million that Congress appropriated this year. Obama is also proposing to limit eligibility for TAG to students from families earning up to $450,000 per year; currently, students are eligible if their families earn up to $1 million per year.

The new limit would take effect in the 2015-16 school year would not affect current TAG recipients.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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