June 02, 2014 12:00 am • By Doug Ross
Hammond has locked in funding for the popular College Bound scholarship program for the next dozen years. That keeps a bright idea going.
College Bound offers financial aid for at least the first two years of college for students who have lived in Hammond at least eight years.
That’s a good way to promote home ownership in Hammond.
“It adds a tremendous amount of value to homes in Hammond, and we’ve seen a number of people move to Hammond and others make the decision to stay in because of the College Bound program,” said Tom Dabertin, the city’s College Bound consultant.
Nearly 3,000 Hammond residents have received College Bound aid since the program’s inception in 2006.
Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. began the program with a portion of the city’s casino revenues, but a more stable funding source was needed. So the new ordinance taps revenues from the sale of water to cities in Illinois.
Under the new ordinance, some necessary changes have been put in place. Hammond has pegged the tuition assistance at $10,500, which is the amount charged by Purdue University Calumet in Hammond. If the school’s tuition rises, so will the College Bound aid.
“We guarantee if you go to Purdue Calumet, you’ll get 100 percent free ride,” McDermott said.
Students who receive aid will be required to perform community service first. That makes sense, too. It not only gives the city some value for its money, but also gives the students a better sense of how they can, and should, give back to the city giving them the prospect of a brighter future.
Preserving this program, at least for the next 12 years, is a success story for Hammond. It is innovative programs like this one that hold promise for not only retaining but also attracting young families to the city.