Summary of Report on Tuition to the State Legislature

On Sept. 1st, St. Mary’s College of Maryland submitted a 30-page report to the Chairs of the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate Budget Committees, at their request, outlining a proposed $5 million annual increase in the College’s block grant. The report includes the exigence and plan for the additional money.

Currently, the College receives $17.2 million a year from the state. The block grant is tied to inflation but, as the report points out, the cost of higher education has risen much faster than the rate of inflation. According to the report, in the first year of the block grant the College received $10.6 million, representing 50 percent of the operating budget, whereas this year’s grant represents just 27 percent of the operating budget.

Increasing the block grant is required to meet what the report calls the two pillars of the St. Mary’s mission as charged by its founding legislation: “(1) the promise of public education affordable to all and thriving on diversity, and; (2) high standards of academic excellence.” The report calls St. Mary’s “an elite model of higher eduction that is pointedly non-elitist, but accessible to all students who possess the drive to attend college.”

The central premise of the report is that the two pillars of St. Mary’s, high standards and affordable, need a renewed investment from both private donors and the State of Maryland to succeed.

The report lays out a five-year fundraising plan for the College to raise $10-15 million from private sources in addition to requesting $5 million from the Maryland General Assembly. With the additional funding, the College offers three actions to attain the two pillars of the College’s mission.

1.) A 12 percent reduction for in-state tuition, bringing tuition down to 2009 levels.
2.) $7,200 annual need-based grant to reduce the gap between Pell-grant funding and total cost.
3.) Raise the four-year graduation rate for all students to 80 percent.

The 12 percent tuition reduction is aimed at reducing the $5,694 gap between St. Mary’s and the rest of the University System of Maryland’s (USM) tuition to $3,533. The Report points out that USM received significant money in the last several years to help freeze in-state tuition that St. Mary’s did not receive. Had St. Mary’s received the same amount, the report says the College’s block grant would be $6.8 million larger.

The report also points out St. Mary’s supports an additional 324 in-state students since 1998 and had the block grant risen along with those numbers the College would receive an additional $4.4 million a year. The report said, “St. Mary’s College has expanded to meet the needs of the state, but the cost of this expansion has been borne by our students and their families.”

The tuition reduction is not the only way the report said the school intends to make St. Mary’s more affordable. The College proposes a $7,200 need-based grant for those eligible for Pell grants. “By selecting students receiving a Pell Grant for these new need-based grants, we have a federally defined group that represents the population with the fewest financial resources,” said the report.

In 2001, 70 percent of Pell-eligible students had sufficient income to pay for college compared to 40 percent today. The report states that a 12 percent reduction in tuition combined with a $7,200 need-based grant would cover the average Pell-eligible student’s need gap.

Finally, the report proposes expanding the DeSousa-Brent scholars program to a four-year scope. “A key component of our continuing commitment to the founding legislation on academic rigor relies upon providing the resources needed to assist students drawn from minority groups and those with limited family resources and less college preparation,” said the report about the DeSousa-Brent program.

The DeSousa-Brent expansion is aimed at improving the four-year minority graduation rate, currently at 58 percent, compared to an overall graduation rate of 72 percent, to the 80 percent goal set by the College.

The report ends with a note to legislatures asking them to invest in Maryland’s future. It said, “our proposal asks that we recalibrate the level of state support so that we may continue to recruit high-capacity students and not limit eligibility to standards of wealth, but solely to a willingness to meet the challenge of the honors college curriculum at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.”

The next step for the proposal is the Governor’s consideration and inclusion of the additional block grant in his budget due out in January.

ST. MARY’S CULTURE OF NICKEL-AND-DIMING

Have you ever wondered where that 10 cents of your pay-for-print money is going?  A case of Willcopy Recycled Copy & Multipurpose paper (the kind SMCM uses) is listed on Amazon.com for $40/5000 sheets. This means that every sheet of paper that St. Mary’s buys costs 0.8 cents per sheet. To be fair, the school must also buy ink, such as HP LaserJet 42A cartridges that cost $140 on Amazon and print 10,000 sheets. In total, the school pays $110/5000 sheets (half the cartridge price plus the price of paper), meaning that SMCM pays only 2.2 cents each time you print something. That leaves a comfortable profit of 7.8 cents per sheet of paper each time a student prints something for the school.  Pay-for-print is, of course, only one example of the culture of nickel and diming that St. Mary’s College promotes.

Recently there have been a great many other examples of the promulgation of this policy, some new and some old. For example, the registrar’s office recently decided to charge students for transcript requests at a cost of $7.50 ($5 per transcript, $2.50 for the “service”).  Multiple reasons were given for this new charge including, “Convenient 24/7 access, Paperless process, Secure transactions, Automatic order updates via email, Online order tracking, and the ability to order multiple transcripts for multiple recipients in one order.”

Some of these reasons are worthy; for example as a paperless process the school will not need to print out so many transcript request forms now. However the rest seem pretty weak, considering that St. Mary’s students have somehow graduated year after year without this “new and improved” (and pricey) service. There may be some solid explanation for the creation of a new cost to students; however, all fees levied against students for services must be decided in context.

Personally, I am an out-of-state student from New York. My first semester here, I paid a little more than $10,000 dollars.  Now, in my final semester, I pay $11,000 for the privilege to attend SMCM.  In-state students pay understandably pay less.  An in-state student who was a freshman in 2009 paid almost $5,500 per semester. Today the same student pays almost $5,700. In total this means that an out-of-state student like myself will pay between $80,000 and $88,000 in tuition and an in-state student will pay between $44,000 and $45,600 in tuition. This is not to mention the extra $1,100 or so that each full-time student pays as a fee per semester due to the fact that they are a full-time student (part-time students also pay a fee, although it is less). Needless to say, tuition will be raised by six percent next semester as per a decision by the Board of Trustees.

After paying a sum of money that most people would consider to be a substantial chunk of change, fees applied to students seem petty.  To my surprise (and the surprise of a number of other seniors), St. Mary’s has charged each one of us $100 to graduate.  The reaction most seniors have experienced is, “Isn’t graduation what they have been charging me all these thousands of dollars for already?”  After spending $44,000 to $88,000 to attend this prestigious school, the least one might expect is to be charged an extra $100 for the opportunity to leave.

Suspiciously, the administration has not offered any explanation to the senior class, except for a few individuals who they rely on to spread the explanation for why we must pay for something we have spent years already working (and paying) towards. Why does SMCM need an extra $40,000 to $50,000 dollars? To a graduating senior, this appears to be a final attempt to milk us for money before we, and our tuition money, leave.

Of course, there are other fees that students deal with on a daily basis such as One-card replacements and the purchasing power of flex dollars. There may be good reasons for such fees and additional costs. Understandably, the school may need the money to provide services in other areas.  That leaves the question of why the school does not include such costs in tuition fees. Of course, such fees may encourage a certain behavior in students (such as not losing one-cards), but some fees seem petty such as pay-for-print, leaving questions as to the benefit of such fees.

I am not appealing for the cessation of fees placed on the student body. I realize that these fees most likely do serve a purpose and might help pay for somebody’s paycheck.  I would, however, like more information. Why does the school need to make a profit of almost eight cents on the dollar every time a student prints a page? Why must seniors pay $100 for something that they have been working on and paying towards for the past four years? Why must students now pay money for a transcript service that has not been needed in the past (saying “every other school does this” is not an answer)?

In light of what seem to be ever-increasing tuition rates, I think the administration would be wise to explain the reasons behind student fees instead of simply charging payments to our student accounts and expecting us to pay.

 

Giving What You Can to Keep St. Mary’s Great

A girl I know turned to me and said that this was her last semester, she couldn’t afford to come back. Two days later, a guy stopped me on the path, to ask about financial aid possibilities, saying he was working twenty-hour weeks on top of school and still not making ends meet. Five days later, another person said she was taking twenty-four credits this semester, in an effort to graduate early to avoid additional debt. The next day, I heard from another student who had transferred to College Park already, unable to afford St. Mary’s College.

In nine days I heard from four different students in extreme financial difficulties. At other times throughout the semester, I heard from more than a dozen others in similar situations. Earlier this year, I wrote about what was happening with tuition, and why. I talked about the declining percentage of general budget funds coming from the state, and rising expenses despite austerity efforts. The school is working on solutions, from pushing the state for more money to increasing fundraising efforts for scholarships. Yes, both the school and the state need to work harder, and I’m pushing them on that, but sometimes we can’t wait for others to act. We must act now.

Some of us have been lucky enough to have a parent or other relative or funding source pay for the entirety of our education. We are the ones not struggling to make tuition payments, who take merit-based aid as a nice bonus, rather than as necessity. I am among this group, as many of you reading this article are. That is not to say that I personally have a great deal of money; on the contrary, my bank account is quite small. But what is there isn’t needed to pay for my education. It’s all discretionary funding, and while saving up for post graduation is necessary, maybe I can do with one less new shirt, or one less pack of “Natty Boh.”

At the end of last semester, I made a $200.00 donation for need-based financial aid. As mentioned in an earlier Point News article, another student made a $1,000.00 anonymous donation for need-based financial aid. That is an incredible start. What we need now is every student on the financially stable end of the spectrum, those of us who can afford it, to give whatever we can to help out our fellow students. If all you can give is five dollars, then do it. If you can give more, do it. If you have well off relatives, ask them for money if you’re comfortable doing so. If you have time, write to the legislature and tell them how much we need additional funding. Anything you can give, and anything you can think of outside of direct giving, is helpful. Together, we can help keep every student who wants to stay at St. Mary’s financially capable of doing so. All it takes is a little force of will and a determination as a student body to not let our peers fall by the wayside. Give everything you can, and we can do it.

So open your wallets and open your hearts. Let’s do this thing!

 

In Slow Economy, College Will Still Provide Financial Aid

St. Mary’s College of Maryland recently set up a $105,000 Emergency Financial Aid Fund to help alleviate the financial burden of students whose economic situation may have changed as a result of the current economic recession.

With a financial aid budget of $5.3 million in 2009, St. Mary’s spends 8 percent of its $64 million operating budget on both need-based and merit-based scholarships for students. According to Tim Wolfe, Director of Financial Aid, “65 to 67 percent of students on campus receive financial aid.”

Wolfe said, “a lot of families have lost their job and their investments have gone down,” and in response, “students and alumni raised money for a financial aid program.” Students can now apply for small grants from the $105,000 fund to help cover immediate costs. “It’s not a lot of money, but we are helping students in a short period of time to balance their books,” said Wolfe.

The majority of the fund came from a fundraising appeal at the end of last year and a donation from the SGA last semester.

It is not just current students who are feeling the crunch of tough economic times, Admissions has seen a shift in applicants. “The two demographics that dropped the most are out-of-state students and first-generation college students. Both of those I tie directly to the state of the economy,” said Wes Jordan, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.

“It’s a very serious situation that families are facing,” said Jordan, but the situation is just as serious for the College. As a result of state budget problems, he said, “the state has cut [the College budget] several times” and yet “the amount of money that the College will put into financial aid will remain the same as it has been, and that is quite an accomplishment because everything else has shrunk.”

Historically, the College has increased the overall financial aid budget by the same percent that tuition increases. According to Jordan, “[the College] doesn’t know if that will happen but I predict that it will at least be the same as this year.”

“It’s too early to tell” if the College will meet its fundraising goals for the next financial year, according to Karen Raley, Class of ’84 and Director of Annual Giving. The development office began their annual phone-a-thon last Monday and set an “ambitious” goal of $55,000.

The phone-a-thon, which reaches out to parents and alumni, has been very successful in the past but the Development Office is also trying new methods to raise revenues. “[The Development Office] has invested in technology that allows people to donate as little as a penny,” said Raley.

Raley is also reaching out to students for the first time. She asks students to make a donation if they can or commit to make a donation after they graduate. “They were pretty excited for the oppertunity to be asked,” she said.

With the phone-a-thon in progress and a year end appeal, written by Jordan, around the corner, Raley is “hopeful” that the development office will meet its fundraising goals and the rising need on campus.

Academic Budgets Cut

Students, faculty and staff gather to consider different budget options at the budget forum. (Rowan Copley)
Students, faculty and staff gather to consider different budget options at the budget forum. (Rowan Copley)

The College’s academic departments saw 15 percent of their yearly discretionary budget slashed earlier this spring, according to Provost Larry Vote and numerous department chairs.

Maryland Higher Education Student Advisory Council Representative Lauren Payne said the budget cuts were “unfortunate given that we are an Honors College and academics should be our first priority.” But, she added, “I know that St. Mary’s is not the only institution of higher education that is feeling the impact of these economic times”

Vice President for Business and Finance Tom Botzman said the cuts were necessitated by a budget shortfall of approximately 2.3 million dollars. Shrinking interest earnings and endowment funds, coupled with growing energy, food, travel, benefits and minimum wage costs caused the deficit. Also, the State of Maryland rescinded 125,000 dollars of funds from St. Mary’s, with an additional 232,000 dollars of cuts pending approval by the Board of Public Works.

The 2.3 million dollar discrepancy was partially offset by leaving vacant staff positions open and filling the College to capacity, but Botzman said, “We still needed about 750,000 dollars to close this fiscal year’s budget.” This burden was proportionally spread between each Vice President’s office and the Dean of Students, according to Botzman.

The Office of the Provost, Vote said, “had a target number to meet and 15 percent of each unit’s operating budget potentially allowed us to meet the target with the least amount of impact and most equity across the campus.”

Many academic departments were able to absorb the budget cuts without suffering extensive obstruction to their day-to-day operations.

“I don’t think it really affected us that much. My big concern is really on the teaching side. Since that budget was already allotted, it only had a small effect on us,” Michael Cain, the Political Science Department Chair, said.

Charles Adler, Chair of the Physics Department, added, “We were able to give the requested amount back without too much change in the department’s operation.”

English Department Chair Ruth Feingold said that the cuts would have “little to no” impact on English students. But, she added that, “Morale might be lower across the board.”

Still, the Biology Department – whose budget hovers above 100,000 dollars – “didn’t have as much money left in the kitty as we needed to pay back,” according to Department Chair Rachel Myerowitz.
“I was really scared, I thought I might jump out of a window because I didn’t know how we could give the money back,” she added.

Myerowitz credited Vote for being “flexible.” The department eventually was able to return 5,000 dollars after being asked for 16,000.

Biology students will see the department ordering fewer supplies, sharing reagents and traveling less this spring. “We won’t replace broken glassware. There’s a piece of equipment that is down, so we’ll try to catch the moment where it’s functional instead of replacing the software,” Myerowitz said.

Other departments are responding similarly; many are delaying new technology purchases, prioritizing the travel plans of professors and inviting fewer speakers to campus. Dave Kung, Chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Departments, said he had to “postpone plans to build a network for Computer Science students.”

Overall, Vote said, “We have tried to minimize the effect on students. People will be asked to be more observant of waste and use of equipment. Some replacement purchases will be postponed, some materials may be in shorter supply, social events will be less expensive.”

While the College has attempted to shield students from feeling the effects of the budget rescission by cutting from various pools of funds, there are consequences, according to History Department Chair Tom Barrett. He noted the benefits of on-campus speakers. Also, Barrett said, “It would have been nice to be able to use some of that money to hire students to help us with research. That’s a direct value for students, in many different ways.”

The Chairs of both Mathematics and Political Science also anticipated possible consequences for their student-workers. Kung asked his department’s teaching assistants if they would be willing to work for credit instead of an hourly wage. Additionally, Cain said that Political Science students might not be able to conduct paid research as late into the semester as in previous years.

Many Department Chairs noted their relative unease over fiscal year 2010, which begins on July 1, 2009. “We’re very concerned about FY2010. We don’t know what’s going to happen there,” Barrett said.
While no academic budget cuts have been planned for the next fiscal year, Vote said, “The [economic] environment is unstable.  We will need to be ready for further action should it be called for.”

To address the College’s budget issues, Kung hosted an all-campus forum that was attended by about 50 students, faculty members and staff last Friday.

“I think there is a real benefit in getting the people on the ground – the students, the staff, the housekeepers – involved in finding solutions to budget cuts. They’re the people who see how the money is spent and might generate great ideas. Having this sort of forum generates a shared sense of sacrifice,” he said.

Senior Stephanie Hartwick attended the forum. She said, “Everyone needs to realize that every light they leave on, every load of clothes they dry, every paper towel they use drains money away from the livelihoods of the teachers and the staff we depend on.”

Is St. Mary’s Still a Great Value?

It’s possible that St. Mary’s won’t be considered a great deal in education anymore, which is one of its greatest attractions to potential students.

Last semester students got a message sent out by Maggie O’Brien to all students and faculty informing us that there were some cuts being made in the budget of the school.

Most notably:

  • No new hires for a while, except for Public Safety.
  • Less vacation time for staff.
  • Energy-saving moves, like dimmer lights.

How does this affect me, the average St. Mary’s student? Well, our tuition is still going up by 5%, so we’re still being asked to pay more even though St. Mary’s is paying less.
When I brought this up at the Vegetarian Co-op where I eat, people indicated they were a little pissed. We saw that the price of meal-plans was going up 11%.
“As if the meal plans aren’t already extortion,” said Rhett Greenfield, in an interview at the Vegetarian Co-op. There is no way to opt out of the meal plan, unless you live on campus with a kitchen, off campus, or eat at the Co-op.
Several other people in the Co-op said they would have difficulty getting the money.
And there’s the fact that the state of Maryland is asking for $125,000 back from St. Mary’s, so now we have to make cuts across the board, including all of our 20+ academic departments.
Isn’t this fair? We are in a recession. Sure it’s fair. I’m hardly an expert on school finances, but maybe there are some better ways that St. Mary’s could cut costs.
* Stop paying the administration so much.
Look, I know that the administrators of the college are important. But look at their salaries!
In 2008 Maggie O’Brien made $346,427. That’s more than four times what your bread and butter full-time prof makes.
Larry Vote, the provost, made $226,135. Don’t you think they could cut their paycheck a little, if only out of solidarity with the cost-cutting of the rest of the school?
Also, many administrative positions’ salaries increased somewhere around 50-60% during the past eight years, whereas full-time professors’ salaries increased an average of 10%.
Most people have heard that professors come to St. Mary’s not for the money, but for the atmosphere.
Maybe I don’t understand how college salaries work, and I certainly don’t know what our “peer group” colleges are doing with their salaries, but I think something needs to change here.
* Stop spending money on things that don’t matter.
$40,000 for a sprinkler system? This arguably won’t benefit students in the slightest. A new Anne Arundel and Montgomery Hall?
These new buildings might attract more students and current students will appreciate them, but they aren’t necessary.
By wasting our and the state’s money, St. Mary’s isn’t giving us enough and is asking us for more.

St. Mary’s Tuition to Climb By Five Percent

Tashia Graham, Mary Donahue, Tess Wier and Rhett Greenfield prepare to protest an increase in tuition. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)
Tashia Graham, Mary Donahue, Tess Wier and Rhett Greenfield prepare to protest an increase in tuition. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)

The Board of Trustees chose not to break from over a decade of precedent and voted last Saturday to once again raise the cost of obtaining a St. Mary’s education.

Tuition, fees and room prices will increase five percent for the 2009-2010 academic year, while meal plans will spike about 11 percent. The Board voted nearly unanimously in favor of the rate upturn, with Student Trustee Jeremy Pevner casting the sole dissenting vote.

After hearing the opinions of over 100 students, Pevner chose to vote as a representative of the student body. “Students were looking for some way to feel that they had a voice, to feel that they had some sense of efficacy on the Board,” he said.

Still, he acknowledged that increases are needed to maintain “the premier liberal arts education that the Board expects, that the administration provides and that the students demand.”

The Trustees discussed the proposed cost changes for over a half-hour, making them the centerpiece issue of the hour-and-a-half general session. Most debate focused on preserving the accessibility and quality of Maryland’s designated Public Honors College in the face of rapidly escalating operational costs.

Secretary of the Board Molly Mahoney said, “I think I speak on behalf of the Board in saying that this is not something we do easily.” She stressed that the Board’s aim was to support the students of the College.

The Board and the high-level administrators of St. Mary’s ultimately concluded that maintaining the College’s academic program and student services has sufficient utility to approve a rate increase.

Trustee Gary Jobson said, “No one around this table wants to compromise the quality of education in any way.”

“The one thing that is inviolable is our superior academic program,” added President Jane Margaret O’Brien.

Both O’Brien and Vice President for Business and Finance Tom Botzman were frank about the need for raising tuition, fees, and room and board.

One factor is rapidly growing operational costs. The College’s medical insurance premiums are skyrocketing by approximately 1.2 million dollars and energy costs are increasing by about 1 million dollars.

Student initiatives have aided the College in conserving money, but the savings are not enough to offset escalating costs. The Great Room’s trayless program reduces food waste by 23 percent and sustainability efforts have saved over 20 percent on heating oil and electric bills, according to Botzman.

“We are absolutely thrilled that the students are helping us,” he said.

Cuts were also made by the administration. After hiring 16 new faculty members, plans to employ three more have been delayed. Also, some vacant staff positions, including posts in institutional research and athletics, have not been filled and their duties have been reassigned when possible. Salary increases have been delayed as well.

St. Mary’s is also anticipating a cut in Maryland state funding. The College’s block grant is currently around 17 million dollars. “We will find out, we believe in the next month, that the state has rescinded funding [to the College] in the amount of about a million dollars,” said O’Brien.

The St. Mary’s College of Maryland Foundation – the College’s endowment – has suffered during the country’s recession and has seen its returns shrink.

Botzman said, “The endowment has not been strong. In fact, the College will supplement endowment funds for next year. Any scholarships typically come from the Foundation, what the Foundation can’t support, the College will.”

In addition to scholarships, St. Mary’s will add to its financial aid pool in proportion to rate increases so that sufficient need-based aid can still be designated to students.

Botzman noted that each percentage point raise in tuition, fees, and room and board brings St. Mary’s about 200,000 dollars in revenue. The College would face around a 1 million dollar deficit if rates were frozen for the 2009-2010 academic year and a 3.5 million dollar shortage if they were held constant for two years.

“We would have extreme difficultly closing that gap,” Botzman said.

The Trustees were also concerned about a possible rate freeze affecting future students of the College. “Five percent is a lot, but it could be a lot worse,” said Jobson. He added that if tuition, fees, and room and board were not raised this year the College could be forced to implement a 15 to 20 percent increase in the near future.

If the increases were voted down, St. Mary’s would also have to make more wide-reaching cuts to its spending. “If we do have to decide to reduce expenditures, it will affect the academic program,” said O’Brien.

Though the Trustees voted to approve the rate hike with the long-term interests of the College and its student body in mind, not all students agreed with the Board’s rationale.

After hearing of a possible protest against cost increases, James Muldoon, Chairman of the Board, invited sophomore Sarah Shipley to address the Trustees before they voted.

She said, “The student body is extremely concerned about the increase in tuition for next year” and added that most students are “confused” as to where their tuition money actually goes.

Student Government Association Vice President Matt Fafoutis agreed that there should be an increase in transparency and student participation in the budgeting process. “Usually our exposure to the budget is ‘This is how the budget is’ and we have to say ‘Oh, okay.’ The process doesn’t always directly involve the students,” he said after the meeting.

Botzman offered to review the budget with students and present it to the SGA.

In her presentation, Shipley told the Board that, “You all are charged with looking after the long-term health of this College.” She said the “health” of St. Mary’s was staked on the diversity and happiness of its students and that both factors could only decrease as tuition increased.

Shipley originally planned to protest tuition increases outside of Aldom Lounge, the site of the Trustee’s meeting. Senior Tashia Graham, who is also one of the SGA’s Commuter Senators, organized the demonstration on Facebook. 24 students confirmed their participation online, but only around five attended. Protesters cited the cold weather and the relatively early starting time of the meeting – 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday – as the chief factors that thinned the crowd.

The protesters largely focused on the burden of higher tuition prices and the possible loss of socioeconomic diversity at St. Mary’s. Graham said, “I just see the economic diversity that was at St. Mary’s my freshman year dwindling.”

“Economic diversity provides different perspectives. People who come from more economically diverse backgrounds bring different ideas and different experiences,” she added.

Fafoutis did not protest, but was one of about seven students who attended the Board’s open meeting. He said, “I think we’ve reached a tipping point with socioeconomic diversity. I feel like we’re not nearly as diverse as even during my freshman year.”

Sophomore Mary Donahue, another protester, was concerned with her burgeoning debt load and the prohibitive cost of higher education across the country. “I need to pay for my own college education. My interest rates aren’t looking very good. To have to take more loans is so daunting of an idea,” she said.

Pevner also shared the stories he heard from students struggling to pay for college. One student he quoted said, “If you’re going to tell the Board anything, tell them not to forget the working-class students.”

Though attendance at the protest and the Board’s meeting was low, Trustees still took notice of student dissent. “I think it’s important that the students’ voices were heard about this issue and I believe they were,” Fafoutis said.

House Majority Leader and Trustee Steny Hoyer praised Shipley’s presentation and agreed that St. Mary’s should closely look at its expenditures. He also acknowledged a protester with a sign that read “$67,000 in Student Loan Debt” and said, “debt is a tremendous challenge for our country.”

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Business and Finance plan to aid both current and incoming students. “Access is part of our mission,” Botzman said.

The College has budgeted for sufficient need-based financial aid and will support scholarships that the Foundation cannot. Admission is need-blind, unlike many private institutions, and does not consider the financial situation of students before offering them acceptance, according to Rich Edgar, the Director of Admissions.

The Office of Admissions will continue to recruit a diverse student body. “The students have my word. We’re working hard to preserve the socioeconomic diversity of this institution,” Edgar said.

Botzman said that the Foundation’s end of the year appeal for funds is now for a call for donors to consider a gift to the Emergency Assistance Fund, which “goes directly to students struggling in the aftermath of an unexpected financial setback,” according to the College’s website. Both Admissions and Business and Finance also work directly with students to help them secure loans when necessary.

Botzman and Edgar also stressed that rapidly growing tuition costs are a national issue and that students considering St. Mary’s will likely see an equal, if not greater, upturn in costs.

“It is not insular…it’s a broader picture, everyone is going to have increases at this time and everyone is going to have cuts,” Edgar said.

After the concrete raises to tuition, fees, and room and board were in place, Pevner said he was “pleased with the amount of discussion that the Board had” and that he believes the Trustees will scrutinize the budget even further at future meetings. He added that he voted against the increases to give a “voice” to the students.

“It is important that the students feel that their voice was heard. Because, if not, then we stop caring and we can’t stop caring about this campus. As soon as we start doing that, then that makes us the same as everyone else,” Pevner said. “From here we move forward as a community,” he added.