As Shop MD Tax-Free Week Begins, USM Doubles Top Scholarship Prize

Students attending member institutions will get $5,000 if their entry wins #shopmdtaxfree social media contest

News Release, Comptroller of Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (August 11, 2019) – Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week is underway, meaning big savings for shoppers and a chance for students attending a Maryland college or trade school to win a huge scholarship, simply by posting their shopping experience on social media through August 17.

The University System of Maryland (USM) Foundation has announced that it will generously match the $2,500 top prize provided by the Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) if the winner attends a member institution, meaning a total prize of $5,000 could be awaiting one Marylander!

“The University System of Maryland is pleased to support this year’s Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, which is an important and effective way that Maryland students and families can stretch their back-to-school dollars,” said USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret. “We also appreciate the Maryland Retailers Association leveraging this annual activity by sponsoring the #shopmdtaxfree scholarship contest.  To add to the excitement, I am happy to report that the USM Foundation will match the MRA’s $2,500 college scholarship if the eventual winner is enrolled at one of the USM’s 12 institutions or three regional centers—that’s a potential $5,000 scholarship to a lucky USM student!  Again, we’re happy to do our part to support this important effort by Comptroller Peter Franchot and the MRA—good luck to all!” 

In addition, USM institutions may individually choose to add on to this amount with their own matching scholarship, meaning the prize could go even higher.

“Just when I thought tax-free week couldn’t get any better, one student could now be in line for a $5,000 scholarship!” said Comptroller Peter Franchot. “All they have to do is take a fun photo or video while shopping, write a creative caption and post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #shopmdtaxfree. There’s no application, no interview, no essay – it doesn’t get any easier than that!”

During tax-free week, which runs through midnight on Saturday, August 17, any single qualifying article of clothing or footwear priced $100 or less – regardless of how many items are purchased at the same time – will be exempt from the state’s 6 percent sales tax. The first $40 of any backpack purchase is also tax-free.

This is the third year that the Maryland Retailers Association have provided scholarship money for Maryland college or trade school students — $2,500 for first place and $1,000 for second place — during tax-free week. Previous top prize winners attended Anne Arundel Community College and Cecil College.

Once again, entering the contest is simple. Eligible students simply need to:

  • Take a fun photo or video while shopping.
  • Write a catchy caption. (Be creative to catch the eye of the judges!)
  • Post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #shopmdtaxfree.

After tax-free week, the MRA will select the two entries that best reflect the spirit of the contest and announce the winners. A scholarship presentation will take place in the following weeks.

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