May 20, 2014 7:30 pm • Rob Earnshaw Times Correspondent
HAMMOND │ Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. signed a $36 million ordinance Tuesday at City Hall.
It’s says if you’re an 8-year-old resident of Hammond, you can have at least your first two years of college covered.
McDermott signed the ordinance extending the city’s College Bound Scholarship program through the 2025-26 school year. College Bound offers up to a full-ride scholarship to Hammond students to any four-year degree seeking accredited college or university in Indiana.
Since the program’s inception in 2006 nearly 3,000 Hammond students have received a portion or the full scholarship.
“We’re guaranteeing 12 more years which is a great deal for Hammond residents,” McDermott said. “It will sell homes in the city of Hammond.”
It will cost Hammond about $3 million a year for the next 12 years using revenue from the city’s Water Department, a move that follows newly created contracts for water with cities in Illinois. The program was previously funded with gaming revenue that has become more unstable, McDermott said.
The city’s consultant for the College Bound program, Tom Dabertin, said in addition to the obvious impact College Bound has on students in Hammond, it also has had dramatic impact on home ownership.
“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,” he said.
The ordinance brings some changes. Hammond will freeze the tuition amount to a flat $10,500, which is Purdue Calumet University’s tuition. It will remain that until PUC’s tuition exceeds that amount. If PUC’s tuition goes up, so will College Bound.
“We guarantee if you go to Purdue Calumet, you’ll get 100 percent free ride,” McDermott said.
Another change is that community service hours required of students in the program will have to be completed prior to recipients beginning college.
LeAnne Munoz, coordinator of the College Bound, was also one of its first participants.
“It was just a great opportunity,” she said. “It’s something not too many people are afforded nowadays. It affording me an opportunity I could never repay.”