In the most recent issue of The Point News, Vice President for Business and Finance, Dr. Thomas J. Botzman stated that it was very likely that while the Board of Trustees may vote to increase tuition; students might actually end up seeing a tuition freeze. That freeze would come as a result of Senate Bill 828, a bill designed specifically for St. Mary’s College of Maryland, to keep tuition prices the same for in-state students for at least two years. As of Apirl 11, Board of Trustees voted to freeze in-state undergraduate tuition in response to the passing of Senate Bill 828, state legislation that passed unanimously by both Maryland’s House and Senate.
“It had to do with changing minds in Annapolis about the place of St. Mary’s College in the Governor’s general tuition reduction plans overall (as we have been excluded from that) making the argument that the policy they had on helping lower tuition wasnt helping insitutions directly, it was just lower costs for students,” said President Joseph Urgo. “So in a sense, our students were being taxed twice. They were paying taxes for everyones tuition to go down and they were paying higher tuition on top of that. In the next two years, we’re going to be trying to catch up on ground that we lost.”
According to a press release made public on April 11, St. Mary’s College of Maryland President Dr. Joseph Urgo thanked both Governor Martin O’Malley; lead bill sponsors Senator Richard Madaleno and Delegate John Bohanan, for “their continued support of students and families at St. Mary’s College of Maryland”. The new state funding for tuition includes $800,000 for 2013-2014 and over $1.6 million for 2014-2015, with the following years funding to be determined depending on inflation and increases in needs.
In addition to the increased funding that helps facilitate a tuition freeze for up to two years, the newly passed legislation also helps St. Mary’s College develop and ripen its DeSousa-Brent Program. The DeSousa-Brent Scholars Program is a partnership that according to their website, helps “cultivate the academic and leadership potential of talented students from groups traditionally underrepresented at St. Mary’s.” With the newly agreed upon tuition freeze and subsequent state funding towards the DeSousa-Brent Program, the program is expanded and will now be a four year program, rather than the current one year one. Additionally, the increase in state funding will help to ensure that the DeSousa-Brent program serves more students. To do so however, the College must continue to show that the money is going to the proper places, and that the graduation rates continue to meet expectations.
Urgo expressed enthusiam regarding the extra funding for the DeSousa Brent Program.”It is exciting because it’s a model for other schools to follow,” said Urgo. “We’re not saying, ‘give us the extra funding and we’ll do the best we can’; we are saying ‘give us the extra funding and we’ll show you we can do it – if we can’t, take the money back , if we succeed, continue giving us funding and we will continue doing good things.'”
Resuming the discussion of tuition freeze, there is a portion of the new legislation that cannot be forgotten, or rather a portion of the bill that does not exist: the portion covering out-of-state students. While in-state students certainly will not see an increase in their tuition, out-of-state students unquestionably will. That four percent increase will raise out-of state tuition to $26,046.80. That amount is only $31.20 cheaper than an in-state students full price to come to St. Mary’s for the 2012-2013 year. That means that if you add up tuition, fees, and room and board for an in-state student for this year it is only $31.20 more expensive than an out-of-state student’s tuition. However, that will not stay that way for long. Accoridng to Botzman, food service as well as room and board fees will see an increase of two and three percent respectively. Despite the fact that every student regardless of their permanent residence will be paying more this coming year, it is important to see the immense benefits tuition freeze will bring for St. Mary’s students, and to school-wide programs from the increased revenue a hold on tuition will bring.
According to Urgo, the tuition freeze will be assessed after two years, comparing our tuition to the tuition of other college insitituions in Maryland. A decision regarding the continution of the freeze will be made at that time.