Hammond College Bound Scholarship Program benefits local families

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Hammond’s College Bound Scholarship Program has saved city families hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition.

Rob Jakubielski, who lives with his wife Monique and their three children in the Robertsdale section of Hammond, estimates that over the next eight to ten years the program will save his family $130,000.

“That is a home in Hammond,” Jakubielski says.

Jakubielski’s daughter is a senior at Calumet College of St. Joseph after starting college at Indiana University in Bloomington where her brother is a freshman. Their youngest son attends Bishop Noll Institute.

The program has been great, Jakubielski says.

“Think about it, three children,” Jakubielski says. “Being able to save that amount of money for their college tuition has been a great help as far as finances go. They will be able to leave college without a huge amount of debt under their name.”

Jakubielski says he grew up in Hammond and early on in their marriage he and his wife decided to stay in the city.

“We enjoyed the neighborhood and added on to our home enough to handle the five of us,” Jakubielski says. “We are glad we stayed. The college bound scholarship program has made it a wonderful situation for us.”

Jakubielski says families who have moved to south Lake County don’t realize how much tuition is saved through the program, which covers up to $10,500 in tuition annually but does not include room and board.

As President of Bishop Noll Institute, Paul Mullaney receives feedback about Hammond’s program from parents.

“We have heard from parents who told us the availability of the College Bound program has made college a more realistic goal,” Mullaney says. “They say by living in Hammond the program allows them to send their children to a Four-Star private school like Bishop Noll, and they know their kids will be well prepared for college and, in the process, much more admissible for higher education. It’s a win-win.”

As a parent and Hammond resident, Mullaney says the program has been great for his family.

“We have had three of our children utilize the scholarship program,” Mullaney says. “It has been a great savings. It is a great asset and one of the primary reasons we have stayed in Hammond. In addition we like living in Hammond. It is a great place to live.”

Mullaney, whose six children have all attended Bishop Noll Institute, says the scholarship is a wonderful benefit for families especially those with multiple children.

LeAnne Munoz, Hammond College Bound Scholarship Program Coordinator, says currently there are 35 families who have two or more children in the program. Munoz says she expects that number to increase for the upcoming year.

Munoz says the scholarship program has been in place since 2006 and was started as a ten-year promise. In May an ordinance was signed extending the program for 12 years enveloping the last two years of the old promise into the new one.

There have been a few changes made to the program, Munoz says. Students must complete 40 hours of community service, previously it was on a sliding scale, before receiving the funding from College Bound. The amount paid annually for tuition has increased from $10,000 to $10,500, Munoz says.

“We have changed the funding source from gaming revenue to the money we receive from water rates through a contract with Illinois,” Munoz says. “Hammond residents do not pay anything into this program.”

Since the program was created, 1,334 students have utilized it, Munoz says. Included in that number, there were 536 students in the program during the 2013-2014 school year.

“We anticipate seeing that number increase, as we now have the first graduating class from HAST participating in the program,” Munoz says.

Munoz says she believes College Bound has played a role in keeping Hammond’s population stable.

“When the 2010 census was going to come out, it was predicted that Hammond would lose much of its 80,000 population, but it actually stayed the same,” Munoz says. “I personally believe this program had something to do with that. We mention that in our College Bound 2013 Annual report.”

Munoz says the 2013 report can be found under ‘Document Central’ on gohammond.com.

During the first two years of College Bound, Munoz says, data provided by the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors (GNIAR) indicated that the time a single family home was on the market in Hammond was reduced—a trend attributed to College Bound.

“As recently as mid-2008, GNIAR continued to see a correlation between College Bound and home sales,” Munoz says. “However, the Association notes that several near catastrophic events affected the housing market over the past five years: a deep recession; a near catastrophic financial crisis affecting banking institutions and in particular mortgage lending and a massive rise in foreclosures, All have had a significant impact on the housing market in Hammond. Due to the complexities and wide-ranging impact of these issues, it is almost impossible to identify and determine the specific impact of College Bound on the housing market.”

In addition to population stabilization, the program definitely impacts the community through the service hours’ portion of the scholarship, Munoz says.

“Just last year alone, College Bound students generated more than 15,000 hours of community service for the city of Hammond, “ Munoz says. “Students did many things throughout the city, such as helping with beautification and cleanup programs, working in parks, helping with our city recreation program, helping with city events such as Festival of the Lakes, working in various city offices—the list continues for quite a while.”

“So even for Hammond residents who do not have children and are not benefitting financially from the program, they are still benefitting through the service hours provided by the program,” Munoz says. “And now that all students have to complete 40 hours, that number is only going to increase.”

Additionally, Munoz says, there are a number of students who have graduated from the program between 2006 and 2009, who have moved back into Hammond.

Munoz recently issued a survey to those students, and out of the 61 responses received of the 130 sent out, 56 percent of students had returned back to live in and/or purchase a home in Hammond.

Munoz says this program not only encourages people to live in Hammond, but to invest in Hammond, to care about their property and community, to care what happens to it and in it.

“This program educates the young residents of this community, making them better people who can go out and impact the people around them,” Munoz says. “Mayor McDermott has said many times that he believes this program is his legacy, and if this program helps do all the things mentioned, that’s a pretty good thing for which to be remembered.”