Southwest Towers (East Tower)

The Debt-Free Degree

News | Published: January 20, 2021

If you were to ask friends an essential factor in choosing a school, you'd likely get all kinds of answers, like name recognition, the size of the campus, or the football team's success. We want to break it down for you; When it comes to choosing a school, the only relevant factor is if you can pay for it without student loans.

Our goal for the Hamel Scholarship program is to help students graduate debt-free or with limited debt. We understand the importance of attending an affordable college that fits within the family budget. The truth is, there are many ways to get an education and find excellent careers without borrowing a dime.

Let’s look at one option.

Maryland has excellent schools known as community colleges, and several Hamel scholars are knocking out the basics at a community college for two years, then transferring to a major university for years three and four. Since the Hamel Scholarship Fund pays up to $7,500 for tuition, our students will earn their Associate Degree without borrowing money!

In 2019-2020, the average tuition & fees for colleges in Maryland were $8,477. The Hamel Scholarship Fund pays up to $7,500 for tuition if the student attends full time and maintains a 2.0-grade point average. The scholarship award quickly covers most of the tuition costs for years three and four allowing our Hamel Scholars to pursue their dream without compromising their financial future.

Now, let's talk room and board, which averages $12,210 at private four-year institutions and $10,800 for public four-year schools. Over two years, these fees add up significantly. As the tuition cost continues to rise year-on-year, several of our Hamel Scholars have opted to live at home for their sophomore and junior years to cut costs. Living at home is a short-term sacrifice to save nearly $25,000!

If this path appeals to you, we recommend working with Jan Hines and the Pre-Transfer Advising office to ensure the community college transfer credits and check the school's Transfer Credit Database. It will be essential to search for your institution's courses to know if they are equivalent to the university class. Jan can be reached by emailing

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