BALTIMORE — The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has opened the application process for a scholarship program designed to help income eligible students attend nonpublic schools.
The Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program, entering its third year, will provide more than $7 million in scholarships for students who are eligible for the free- or reduced-price lunch program. The BOOST program was the result of a bipartisan compromise during the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly, and received widespread support from legislators in both parties.
“Our administration is committed to ensuring that every single child in Maryland has the chance to get a world-class education, regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “This innovative program, forged through bipartisan cooperation, offers expanded options and opportunities for Maryland families and students.”
More than 2,800 students were awarded BOOST Scholarships for the 2017-18 school year. Scholarships ranged from $1,400 to $4,400 each, with the highest award amount going to students who had qualified for the Free Meal Program and attended a public school the previous year.
The BOOST program is available for students either already attending or hoping to attend a nonpublic participating school. Students must be enrolled in— or have applied to— a potential participating school before completing the BOOST application.
All applications will be reviewed by MSDE to ensure completion and income eligibility. MSDE will compile a list of applicants that ranks eligible students by family income expressed as a percent of the most recent federal poverty levels. MSDE will then provide a count of eligible students by category to the BOOST Advisory Board. The categories reflect whether the student attended a public or private school the prior year and whether the student qualifies for Free Meals or Reduced Meals. lso, the BOOST law governing the 2018-19 awards specifies that some funds are reserved for students with disabilities. The BOOST Advisory Board will determine how the scholarship funds are allocated among the categories.
Students who received a BOOST Scholarship in the 2017-2018 school year and who still meet the eligibility criteria must complete an application to receive an award in 2018-2019.
The application deadline is Monday, May 21, 2018 at 5 p.m. for the 2018-19 school year. The application and a list of participating schools is available at http://marylandpublicschools.org/Pages/ boost/index.aspx.