Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship has nearly 3,000 people on a waitlist

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The loss of funding for the Maryland Community College Promise scholarship arrives at a difficult time for the state’s community colleges. The schools are contending with their own budget cuts and a decline in fall enrollment as the recession takes a heavy toll on the population they traditionally serve: students from low-income households.

“Our students are the people working at your restaurants, they’re the ones working at your stores. Those students are exponentially impacted by this crisis,” said DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College, one of Maryland’s largest community colleges. “We know that enrollment is probably going to continue to contract because students won’t have the money to go to school.”

Maryland is one of 30 states that cover tuition at community colleges, part of a national movement to use higher education to strengthen the local economy. College Promise programs, as tuition-free initiatives are commonly known, have resonated with elected leaders across the political spectrum, and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has pledged to make them universal.

In Maryland, the community college scholarship provides up to $5,000 to students whose families earn less than $150,000 a year and adults earning less than $100,000. The state covers tuition left over after factoring in other scholarships and grants.

Similar to the other state programs that have emerged in recent years, Maryland College Promise has had its share of growing pains. The eligibility criteria were complex and restrictive, some deadlines changed midstream, and students complained of not getting timely responses to their questions.

But this year was different. Advertising kicked off early, with community colleges, high schools and the Maryland Higher Education Commission reminding students throughout the year to apply. And legislative fixes to some requirements of the scholarship expanded the pool of applicants.

The program, which was exclusively focused on recent high


Cambridge University Makes $4.5 Billion Fossil-Fuel Divestment Promise

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Cambridge University students march through central Cambridge demanding the university divest its unethical investments in arms and fossil fuels companies in 2018.

Photographer: Robert Evans/Alamy

After five years of sustained pressure that saw students protest and graffiti on ancient buildings, Cambridge University has committed to divesting its endowment from fossil fuels in a more comprehensive way than its peers have done so far.

The 800-year-old university said today that it will divest direct and indirect holdings in fossil fuels from its 3.5 billion pound ($4.5 billion) fund by 2030 and pledged to make “significant” investments in renewable energy by 2025. It also promised to ensure greenhouse-gas emissions from the activities of all its investments balance out to zero by 2038. The institution last year committed to reaching neutrality on its own energy-related emissions by 2048.

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The divestment movement gained steam in U.S. universities around 2010, as the urgency to act on climate change began to grow. As of 2020, non-profit Fossil Free claims that investors with nearly $15 trillion worth of assets under management have committed to divesting from fossil-fuel companies. Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc said in their 2019 reports that they consider divestment a material risk to its business.

Read more: How Climate Divestment Won Converts With Deep Pockets

Cambridge’s decision follows persistent pressure from students and staff. In 2017, the university’s academics passed a non-binding vote on fossil-fuel divestment. A year later, bailiffs hired by Cambridge removed students who occupied one of its largest administrative buildings for seven days in protest at the university’s investments in some of the world’s most polluting companies.

“Divestment isn’t the only way to deal with decarbonization, but it’s not to be scoffed at either,” said