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Chancellor: Maryland is making student financial aid a priority | READER COMMENTARY

An aerial view of the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
An aerial view of the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) (G Fiume/Getty Images)

I appreciate The Sun’s recent editorial urging the University System of Maryland to prioritize financial aid at a time when students — especially students from low-income families and students of color — will rely on those dollars more than ever before (”University of Maryland affordability: Make financial aid a top priority,” July 8).

The USM understands the financial toll that COVID-19 has taken on our students and families. It’s why we refunded a portion of room, board and fees last semester and why we’ve frozen tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year. And so I’m proud that the USM has budgeted an additional $12 million in financial aid for students across the system, bringing our total financial aid commitment for the 2020–21 school year to about $184 million, based on current estimates.

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We know this is money our students desperately need to continue in their academic programs and complete their degrees. Even though the USM is facing tough budget decisions as the pandemic cuts our revenues and swells our costs, we made a promise to students that we would help see them through these difficult days. Our investment in financial aid is part of that promise.

The Sun’s editorial board acknowledges that “Maryland’s public universities were an educational bargain before the pandemic and they remain a good value today.” Our challenge now is to make sure that the bargain of a USM education is one that every student in Maryland can afford.

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Jay A. Perman, Baltimore

The writer is chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

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