District Dossier

Mayor Proposes College Help

Indiana city eyes aid to keep homeowners.

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The mayor of Hammond, Ind., is proposing an unusual way to encourage residents to buy homes in the city and stay there: college aid for their children.

Thomas M. McDermott Jr., who campaigned on the issues of raising the levels of homeownership and education in the industrial city, announced the plan last week. It is expected to be approved by the City Council next month.

By requiring that the scholarship recipients be the children of homeowners, the program addresses pledges Mr. McDermott made in his campaign. In fact, he said last week, he thinks it could also attract new residents.

“Are people actually going to move to Hammond because of the scholarships?” he said in an interview. “I think so.”

As an example, the mayor said he recently talked to a father who was on the verge of moving out of the city, but is reconsidering based on the scholarship program.

Under the plan, the city would pay up to $7,500 a year in college tuition for qualifying graduates of the city’s public and private high schools. The program would be financed with some of the city’s gaming revenue from the Horseshoe Casino.

To qualify for a scholarship under College Bound, a graduating student would be required to have a 3.0 grade point average, or a 2.5 GPA and a combined score of 1000 on the SAT, and have been accepted to an accredited public or private college or university in Indiana. The scholarship could be used only for schools in Indiana.

Students receiving the scholarships would have to begin college within 16 months of high school graduation and maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 during four consecutive years. Recipients would have five years to complete their college studies after graduating from high school.

In addition, the student’s parent or legal guardian would have to own a home in Hammond and remain both a resident and a homeowner during the four years that the student was in college.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 37 percent of the housing units in Hammond, located on Lake Michigan 22 miles southeast of Chicago, were rental units. Hammond’s population is 83,000, and the city’s school district enrolls more than 14,500 students.

If approved by the City Council, the program will take effect for seniors graduating this spring.

Based on the eligibility criteria, the mayor’s office expects that 110 students graduating this year would qualify for scholarships, bringing the total cost for the class of 2006 to an estimated $2.7 million.

Vol. 25, Issue 27, Page 5

Published in Print: March 15, 2006, as Mayor Proposes College Help
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