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News & Press: Announcements


Tuesday, June 23, 2020  

NSPA is proud to honor Michele Waxman Johnson, Central Scholarship, as the 2020 NSPA Refer-A-Friend contest winner! Take a moment to learn more about Michele in our recent interview.

NSPA: What is it that drives you and your passion for the education industry?

MWJ: My great-grandparents were poor Eastern European immigrants who brought my grandparents here as children in search of a better life. Several generations later, I was a first-generation college graduate, attending the University of Maryland when it cost $2,000 per year for tuition, fees, room, and board, an amount that my parents paid in full.

NSPA: What disparities have you seen in paying for college since your own experience in degree attainment? 

Michele Waxman Johnson
Vice President
Central Scholarship

MWJ: I worked on campus to earn money for books and incidentals, and graduated in four years, then went to work in admissions at a small private college, and paid my way through graduate school at the University of Virginia, attending evening classes for four years, at a cost of $50 per credit. My 51 hour Master’s degree cost less than $3,000 including books, and my entire undergraduate and graduate education cost not much more than one year of tuition and fees alone cost today at the University of Maryland. 

NSPA: What is your philosophy regarding scholarships and the importance they play in our communities?

MWJ: As Vice President at Central Scholarship since 2011, it has been a privilege to work in the scholarship industry. Central Scholarship helps low-income students throughout Maryland pay for college, graduate school, and non-degree career training. We believe that money should not be an obstacle to higher education, therefore we help good students who need the money. Our scholarships come in after federal, state, and institutional aid. Scholarships are a game changer for our students. Without scholarships, they would either borrow more or perhaps they would not even go. We know that education changes lives and family trajectories, and is the gateway out of poverty.

NSPA: How has NSPA played a role in your scholarship work?

MWJ: NSPA has been a great resource for Central Scholarship. We have made important connections who have helped us in our work in Maryland to restrict scholarship award displacement. We have learned about best practices and issues in the scholarship industry. When scholarship providers reach out to learn more about our programs, I always ask if they belong to NSPA, and encourage them to join if they are not members!


Thank you to the following organizations for their generous support!

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