State higher education officials are encouraged by statistics that show more Maryland high school graduates staying in the state to attend college.
The Maryland Higher Education Commission last week released data showing 38.5 percent of state high school graduates enrolled as full-time freshman at a college or university in the state. That figure was compared to statistics from 1985, when 34.5 percent of graduates did so.
State Higher Education Secretary Shaila Aery attributes the slight increase to better funding of state universities and colleges and to her administration's focus to make scholarships available to more students. Students who stay in state to attend college are getting "bargains," Aery said.
"For families concerned about the cost of college, public institutions in Maryland are an excellent alternative to colleges and universities in other states," she said.
State institutions are considerably cheaper than Maryland private institutions, an April survey by The Evening Sun showed.
The 1991-92 tuition at the University of Maryland at College Park, for example, is $2,435 while Johns Hopkins University will charge about $16,100 a year.
The state public school tuitions could increase in January, however, if the UM Board of Regents approves a 15 percent tuition surcharge to offset budget cuts that Gov. William Donald Schaefer proposed.
Aery also reported a 20 percent increase in out-of-state and foreign students enrolled at state universities and colleges and a 23 percent increase in the number of graduate and professional students.
The secretary said that in the past many state high school graduates have chosen colleges or universities outside of Maryland. But a Distinguished Scholars program that offers grants of $3,000 a year to 300 achieving students has produced successful results, she said.