Get the latest updates on 2021-22 scholarships, emergency funding, and operating hours. View All Updates »

Brian, Scholar of the Month

Brian, Scholar of the Month

Posted: 01.20.15

Scholarship Brian with Governor O'Malley at the City College 175th Anniversary Gala
Brian graduated from City College in Baltimore and began his college career in the fall at Albright College.  He enjoys learning about finance and hopes to become an accountant one day.  “By becoming an accountant, I believe I can help people tremendously and bring them knowledge such as investment advice and budgeting tips to make their finances easier to manage,” writes Brian.  “By doing this, I will help people who are ignorant to the fact that they must plan for their future.”  During winter break, he volunteered at the local elementary school helping students with their homework.  Brian is planning a study abroad trip to Greece and had the opportunity to meet Governor O’Malley at last year’s City College 175th Anniversary Gala.  Brian is pictured on the left with Governor O’Malley.

Vice President Calls for Cost Transparency in The Baltimore Sun

Posted: 01.13.15

Baltimore Sun Op-Ed by Michele Waxman Johnson
Central Scholarship’s Vice President, Michele Johnson, penned an op-ed in today’s Baltimore Sun pushing for cost transparency in higher education.  She calls for legislation mandating updated and easy-to-use cost calculators for all schools.  Michele Johnson writes, “We were delighted to learn that a federal bi-partisan bill proposing a Net Price Calculator Improvement Act of 2014 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Maryland U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and in the Senate by Minnesota Sen. Al Franken. The intent of this bill was to simplify net price calculators and require current and consistent data in a user friendly format in the appropriate location on the school website with no broken links. Pretty much a “no-brainer.” While the House of Representatives bill passed as part of the larger Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, the Senate bill failed and must be reintroduced in 2015.

With the 114th Congress now in session, we hope that Senator Franken will reintroduce, and the Senate will pass, this bi-partisan bill. However, should this federal legislation not become a reality any time soon, we urge the Maryland General Assembly and incoming Gov. Larry Hogan to again take the lead in the interest of transparency for Maryland students and families and support such a bill here in Maryland. As Maryland led in 2014 with the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet statewide legislation, let’s see Maryland lead again, strengthening the net price calculator requirements.”

The entire op-ed can be read here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-higher-ed-transparency-20150113-story.html

Application Opens Jan 1st

Posted: 12.22.14

female graduate holding a diploma

It’s that time of year, again.  The 2015 application for degree-seeking students opens on January 1, 2015.  Applicants are considered for more than 40 scholarship programs via submission of the 2015 General Application for Degree Seekers.  Scholarships range from $1,000 to $10,000 for graduating high school seniors, undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

Applicants may complete an optional section of the 2015 General Application for Degree Seekers to apply for an interest-free loan.  Benefits of this program include:  NO interest, NO fees, NO credit score cut offs, and a 10-year repayment plan (payments start small and increase in increments each year).  The average loan offer is $4,000 and co-signers are required without exception for all applicants. This is a competitive program and funding is not guaranteed to all applicants. Applicants for the Interest-Free Loan Program must attend school full time.

General Eligibility Criteria

• Maryland resident (or live within 200 miles of Baltimore City)
• US Citizen/Permanent Resident
• Enrolled in or planning to attend an accredited college/university
o Graduating high school senior
o Undergraduate freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior
o 1st year, 2nd year, or 3rd year graduate student
o Professional student (J.D., D.D.S, etc.)
• Family income below $90,000
• 2.8 GPA or higher to be competitive

It’s #GivingTuesday

Posted: 12.02.14

2014 Giving Tuesday Logo - Maryland Gives More Campaign
Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday. And now, Giving Tuesday — a day for giving your money or time to a cause YOU believe in.
Want to help students afford higher education? Want to help young people achieve their dreams? A gift as small as $5 makes a difference.  Click here to give to Central Scholarship students and join the rest of our community in this worldwide giving phenomenon.

Just this year alone, Central Scholarship helped 219 degree-seeking students and 97 certificate training students!  Our reach goes farther than these numbers.  When we assist students, we help their families and the communities around them.  When we helped Jessica Lee, D.D.S. pay for school, she was able to devote time to a dental clinic where she volunteered to give vital dental care to those who otherwise could not afford care.  When we helped Jesse Harris, Ph. D afford college, he went on to become the first African-American Dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work.  Our students are grateful for their scholarships and go on to serve our community. Help us continue our proud 90-year history with a gift today in honor of Giving Tuesday.

Wes Moore Helps Baltimore

Posted: 11.20.14

Central Scholarship Board Chair Ira Wagner, BridgeEdU student Kristen, and author Wes Moore

Wes Moore stopped by the office today to speak to Central Scholarship board and staff about his work with Baltimore City students.  Wes lives in Baltimore and originally gained notoriety through The Other Wes Moore, published in 2010, a true story of another Wes Moore that grew up nearby but met a dramatically different fate.  Moore is a bestselling author, Rhodes Scholar, Army combat veteran, and executive producer and host of both Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network and the American Graduate Initiative, a platform focusing on reforms happening in the global educational landscape on PBS.  Recently, President Obama nominated him to serve as a Board Member for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Wes (pictured above with BridgeEdU student Kristen and Central Scholarship board chair Ira Wagner) shared information about BridgeEdU – a program he founded which helps Baltimore City students in their first year of college at University of Baltimore.  BridgeEdU supports a cohort of students at the University of Baltimore through service experiences, professional internships, a family mentality, and an “entrepreneurial approach to college and career planning.”  The first cohort of students began their journey this year and Kristen shared her positive experience with our board and staff.  By founding BridgeEdU, Wes and his team have created a supportive program that could be the missing piece of the puzzle for Baltimore City students.

Brett, College Cash Winner

Posted: 07.31.14

College Cash Scholarship recipient Brett Libowitz
Congratulations to Brett Libowitz, our 2014 College Cash Grand Prize Winner and July’s Scholar of the Month!  Brett graduated from high school this past spring and he will begin studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Virginia this month.  Read his essay below:

The single most important thing I learned at the College Cash 101 event was to advocate for myself. Prior to the seminar, I thought the financial aid and scholarship process was out of my control. I planned to apply for scholarships and aid, submit my paperwork, and let the process take its course. However, the information I received encouraged me to exhort time and effort in order to oversee and manage the process and ultimately make my financial goals a reality.

I discovered that there is scholarship money available that is not advertised, but can be tapped into by reaching out. Since the “Cash 101” seminar, I have contacted the four senators and delegates of the eleventh district to receive scholarship applications and I have begun to apply. In the past, I searched college’s websites for scholarship opportunities, but I learned that there may be more opportunities available if I ask the offices of admissions or contact specific departments.

The meeting highlighted essays as a place to promote myself and explained how to do so. This meeting began to teach me the value of showing rather than telling in personal essays. For example, I was able to replace a statement about my dedication in training for the Baltimore Marathon with recollections of twenty-one mile training runs early on Saturday mornings. In this example, I was able to make a stronger statement about myself by showing my experience rather than merely stating it. This seminar charged me to portray myself in the best light possible in order to achieve my goals in the college application process.

Prior to the session, I believed that the financial package I was dealt was incontestable, but learned that I can go to the financial aid office and request an improved package I feel I deserve. As a result of the information provided, I will potentially take two actions I would not have otherwise. If I truly desire to go to a university but cannot justify the cost as is, I will communicate with the financial aid office seeking money available for prospective students in my situation. Secondly, if I lose need-based aid because I receive private scholarships I will argue to redeem these need based federal funds. I learned that it is worthwhile to make an attempt at requesting changes to my financial aid and grant money.

Central Scholarship’s College Cash 101 event empowered me with the information necessary to put my best foot forward in my ventures to receive financial assistance for my higher education.

Although I found the program to be extremely informative, I would have liked more information on when a more expensive college is worth the cost of attendance. I would have appreciated more coverage on the factors to consider in making a decision like this. I feel a section next year based on when it may be worthwhile to spend more on college would be beneficial, but either way I am grateful for the commitment Central Scholarship makes to those seeking an affordable college experience!

Please join us for upcoming College Cash events throughout the year for opportunities to win scholarships and learn about the financial aid process.

Hadja, Scholar of the Month

Posted: 06.30.14

Kenneth S. Battye Charitable Trust recipient Hadja Barry and her father
Hadja Barry’s family is from West Africa.  When Hadja graduated from high school, she worked at a day care center because she enjoys helping others.  She decided that healthcare was a field worth looking into since she wanted to help others and begin a career with the potential to move up in the future.  Hadja’s mother is a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and Hadja decided to follow in her footsteps with the hope of becoming a Registered Nurse down the road.  Hadja writes, “I just don’t want a job—I want a career! I am the oldest of four and putting a burden on my parents isn’t something I want to do.”  Hadja applied to Central Scholarship in hopes of earning a scholarship to help pay for CNA/GNA training.   We awarded Hadja with help from the Kenneth S. Battye Charitable Trust and Hadja completed her CNA/GNA certificate training this year.  She is pictured with her father above.

To apply for certificate training scholarships, click here and scroll down to “Career or Technology Training Students.”

Our Second 2014 College Cash Winner Is…

Posted: 06.20.14

College Cash Scholarship recipient Jyna Maeng
Jyna Maeng!  Jyna attended our Howard County College Cash session in the winter.  College Cash is a free educational program that Central Scholarship offers to students all over Maryland.  We are currently planning a fall session in October all about Student Loan Repayment.  Stay tuned and check this page for details.  Jyna is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studies Computer Science.  Congratulations, Jyna!  Read her winning essay below:

“Welcome to College Cash 101, we are so excited that you have decided to join us today. I have a question for you all, how many of you are undergraduates?” Do I raise my hand? I do not know. The seminar moved on, but I did not. My hand laid limp on my thigh, and I wondered when I should have raised it.

I have come to struggle with these types of questions of what category I fall under. You see, I am a post-baccalaureate student, in other words, a second bachelor’s student. Seven months ago, I was on my merry way down the only path I ever knew, accepted and ready to enter a Communications Master’s program at Georgetown University, when I spotted a robot. This robot’s name was Gilbert and Gilbert was visiting my city with an annual Science Conference open to the public. There, I met people with job titles I have never heard of before, telling me how they programmed Gilbert to find his way out of a maze, which was absolutely remarkable! You see, humans can walk through a maze and when they run into a dead end, they intuitively know to turn around and try a different direction, and not return to the dead end. Robots (and computers) don’t intuitively know anything, so the amazing thing about Gilbert was it could take in new information like finding a dead end, and learn not to go there again, without someone manually moving it.

Gilbert was not born with a deductive mind, it was made for him. These people were playing God, creating life (robotic life), giving inanimate objects the ability to learn from their environment and adapt, like living things. It was eye opening and eventually; life changing. I asked what field they were working in, they replied, ‘Computer Science.’ When I was a new college student I never even heard, let alone, considered Computer Science as something I could have pursued. I had only taken one math course in my entire college career. I believed that I was not a “math person” and that it would have been too hard for me to pursue anything related to it, but truthfully, I was scared. Scared that I might fail and I was not that intelligent. So, I chose a safe major, where I was guaranteed to graduate.

Then, I found myself face to screen with Gilbert and a realization just echoed in my ribs; this is where I should be. I knew I had to get a degree in Computer Science, but everyone I happened to ask about the major either said it was ‘extremely difficult’ or actually dropped out of the major and the fear clawed its way in again. I began to wonder, ‘What if I just was not one of those naturally gifted “computer people”?’ So, what? If I am turn out to be untalented, can I not learn? Can I still not pursue it through hard work rather than through an inherit gift? At the core, I wanted to learn Computer Science and my desire puffed itself up against the looming fear.

After weeks of deliberation, I decided to forgo my Master’s program and become a post-baccalaureate student. Some of my colleagues questioned why I would make such a drastic change. They thought that becoming an undergraduate was a step backward and I would have to pay for college on my own this time.

I understand the rarity of a second bachelor student with such a drastic change in career choice, but I chose this uphill battle because I asked, ‘why bother chasing a dream that isn’t yours?’ I wanted to run after my own. And so, I sprinted. Having little math background, I taught myself Pre-calculus to test out of the college class and pushed through Calculus I and II in half a year while teaching myself Java (programming language) to get ahead of my classes and career. And while I was running, gasping for air, I realized how far I could go if I willed my legs to just keep stepping.

And when I stepped into the College Cash 101 seminar, I thought the most valuable knowledge it would give me would be a list of available scholarships in my county, but it was not knowledge at all that affected me the most, it was advice. When Angela and Jen, went over scholarship essay tips, they said to be human in our essays. Be human and advocate for yourself. I have been trying to hide that I am a second bachelor’s student in every essay, every conversation, because I felt it would somehow hurt my chances of being chosen for scholarships and grants, but now I feel I can write essays truer to my situation and dreams rather than what I think I have to become for some of these scholarship essays. I will learn how to better advocate for myself, and use my unique perspective in my essays to better my chances at future scholarships.

I will also look for scholarships particular to students pursuing a second bachelor’s or something geared towards my major. As Jen and Angela said, we should be more specific and local in our scholarship searches to increase our chances of being selected.

Jen told us that when writing an essay, you should tell a story, rather than list your accomplishments. This is my story, and this seminar helped me begin to write my future chapters the right way.

Announcing the First College Cash Scholarship Winner

Posted: 05.19.14

College Cash Scholarship recipient Glen Smith

Congratulations, Glen Smith!  Glen is our featured scholar of the month and a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University studying Computer Science.  He is the first 2014 College Cash scholarship winner.  Glen attended our College Cash seminar back in January and wrote an essay about his experience.  We asked attendees to write about what they learned in the seminar and what could be improved upon in future College Cash sessions.  Here is Glen’s winning essay:

The “hunt” for college aid becomes harder and ever more frustrating as one rises in grade level, particularly a student already attending a college or university as an undergraduate. However, with a bit of help and guidance, the road to “college cash” can become much clearer. That said, I can rightfully say that the College CASH 101 event has successfully been a pioneering force for me regarding my search for college funds.

How, might one ask, did this event steer me in the right direction? I can only thank the organizers and presenters that provided a plethora of information regarding the college aid-finding process(and hardships). One particular bit of advice that I received was actually a preventive strategy, a way of securing my future even before I begin studying any major. The topic was of student loans. Both presenters began by sharing their stories of beginning college, but one had a rather interesting one. She explained that she followed her heart rather than her head (as she did not have anyone to give her advice on the subject) and took out many student loans to accommodate her educational needs. This caused her to end school in debt which is why she shared the story. What I was able to get out of this aside was the ability to make informed choices. Although I am already in a university, I can still apply this message when choosing things such as room and board plans. This idea greatly increases my chances of leaving school less in-debt than I would be otherwise. Related to this topic was the idea of finding the right loans, if I were to need any. I learned and understood the importance and difference of the sub/unsubsidized loans as well as the Perkins and Parent Plus loans. This will also allow me to make an informed choice when borrowing money, and remind me to watch out for scams and fraud.

But one more important idea that was addressed was how to find college aid and where to look for it. An example was given of a student who applied for multiple scholarships to increase his chances of receiving one, however, he applied for the WRONG ones. I did this my senior year as well. I applied for many scholarships, but only received a couple because I created many mediocre applications for scholarships that did not apply very much to me, instead of creating strong applications for more realistic ones. I now know that the correct strategy would be to find scholarships that pertain more to me, especially ones that really narrow down the applicant field (the more general the scholarship eligibility requirements, the less of a chance I will be selected). I will also look for smaller scholarships as well, because those are the ones that many overlook as being “worthless” but they really do add up in the end.

The only topic I would like to be included (or more expounded upon) is college aid for students already attending college/university. It really does get harder to find funds as you rise up, so just more information or advice for those students would be greatly appreciated.

Sha-Keara, Featured Scholar

Posted: 03.30.14

Central Scholarship recipient Sha-Keara Pinkney

This month’s featured scholar is Sha-Keara Pinkney, a junior at Hollins University in Virginia.   She remembers being in kindergarten and a teacher asked her who she wanted to be when she grew up.  “Lawyer,” was her response and she continues to strive toward that goal to this day.  Originally from Baltimore City, She-Keara remembers being her family’s helping hand in their single mother household.  She writes that her goal was to become “a lawyer with the characteristics of a social worker.”  Since then, she has worked tirelessly and pursued a bachelor’s degree in sociology.  In high school, Sha-Keara was lucky to attend Cristo Rey Jesuit High School where the work study program set her up for success.  She worked at a Baltimore City law firm for two years.  Sha-Keara continued her law education once she went to college by interning with a judge at the District Court of Maryland.

In 2013, Sha-Keara was awarded with a scholarship that was funded by the Mayor of Baltimore City, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.  Due to the donation of the mayor’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards skybox in the summer of 2013, Central Scholarship raised enough money to help a Baltimore City student afford college.  To learn more about our work, please visit our testimonial page or read our reviews on greatnonprofits.org