Maryland unveils college scholarship lottery to get teens vaccinated

Maryland will offer full-ride college scholarships as an incentive to get teenagers vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Wednesday. 

The VaxU Scholarship Promotion will offer $50,000 scholarships, or the equivalent of full tuition and fees for a public four-year college or university, to 20 vaccinated students between the ages of 12 and 17. 

Beginning July 12 and running for eight weeks, two winners will be randomly selected each Monday. On Labor Day, four additional winners will be selected. 

Hogan said the winners will receive a Maryland 529 Prepaid College Trust contract, which locks in today’s tuition rates for the future, or a Maryland 529 College Investment Plan. 

If the students decide to attend private or out-of-state school, the scholarship can be transferred.

Individuals ages 12-17 who provided a Maryland address at the time of vaccination and received the COVID-19 vaccine in Maryland, and not at a federal facility, are automatically entered into the promotion, which is funded through the federal American Rescue Plan.

The sooner teens get vaccinated, the more scholarship drawings they will be eligible for.

“Promotions like this are just one more way that we are reinforcing the importance of getting every single Marylander that we can vaccinated against COVID-19, especially our young people,” Hogan said during a press conference.

The scholarship promotion comes as concerns mount over the impact the delta variant, which is far more transmissible, will have on the unvaccinated.

Maryland last weekend wrapped up its $2 million lottery program, which handed out $40,000 cash prizes weekly to vaccinated residents, and one grand prize of $400,000.

Maryland has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, though it’s not clear whether the lottery helped. According to federal data, 75 percent of residents aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The state released data on Tuesday that showed all COVID-19 deaths recorded in June were unvaccinated people.