Md. regents OK 3 percent tuition increase for in-state students

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents approved Friday a 3 percent tuition increase for in-state, full-time undergraduate students, ending a four-year freeze.

The increase, which takes effect in the fall, is expected to raise revenue by $39.1 million, or 3.3 percent, over fiscal year 2010.

"There was a very healthy discussion, but the board was satisfied and voted in support," said Chancellor William E. Kirwan, adding that the board agreed that given the recession, "ending the freeze was reasonable."

The tuition increase would cost full-time undergraduates at the system's flagship campus, University of Maryland, College Park, an additional $197, from $6,566 this semester to $6,763 in the fall.

Kirwan said that given the state's budget woes, the schools need to find the revenue elsewhere, making the increase necessary. He said about half of the university system's budget comes from state funds, and the other half comes from the students.

Sarah Elfreth, the student regent, voted against the increase, Kirwan said, because no assurance could be given about trying to prevent future tuition increases.

"Everybody would love to provide longer-term projections … [but] it's very hard without knowing state support," he said.

The tuition freeze, intended to make college more accessible, caused schools such as Towson University and Salisbury University to curb admissions in an effort to cut costs.

For example, in 2009, Towson admitted almost 1,000 fewer freshmen and enrolled 400 fewer than it did the previous year, even with applications reaching 15,623 in 2009, up from 11,750 in 2005.

But even with the tuition and fee increases for students, Kirwan said enrollment would not necessarily grow.

"The fact that we are increasing tuition will not make it possible to increase enrollment" alone, he said.

The university system, however, expects substantial growth at the University of Maryland University College, the system's online institution.

The projections adopted by the regents Friday show systemwide undergraduate enrollment is expected to grow by 16.6 percent to 123,280 students and graduate enrollment will increase by 23.8 percent to 53,202 students in the next decade.

These figures largely include UMUC, which is poised to expand by 47 percent in the next decade. Excluding that school, projections show systemwide growth will fall to 9.4 percent, undergraduate expansion will stand at 7.7 percent and graduate enrollment will increase by 13.9 percent.

Individually, projections show most institutions will see increases: Frostburg State University and Salisbury University will experience growth between 3 percent and 5 percent, and Towson University will expand by about 20 percent, largely at the graduate level. Enrollment at the University of Maryland, College Park is predicted to fall by about 6 percent.

Tuition rates for out-of-state, full- and part-time undergraduate students, along with graduate students, were not affected by Friday's vote.

Capital News Service contributed to this article.

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