Regents to discuss raising fees, more University System of Md. expected to OK proposals

August 28, 1998|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

Regents of the University System of Maryland are weighing relatively modest 3 percent to 4 percent increases in tuition next fall, half the rate that provoked a political outcry last year.

But the system's 11 degree-granting colleges and universities have proposed raising mandatory fees next year by up to 16.5 percent, prompting complaints from some student leaders over skyrocketing charges for everything from basketball gyms to dining halls and parking.

"What they're almost doing is pricing students out of college," said Jonathan Busch, student government president at University of Maryland College Park.

The regents are nevertheless expected to approve the increases when they meet today at Bowie State University. The tuition and fee increases are to help pay for 4 percent growth in the university system's overall $2.2 billion budget for 1999-2000.

University officials were taken aback last year when there was an outcry over proposed tuition increases of 7 percent to 8 percent. Gov. Parris N. Glendening, dismayed that higher education costs were rising twice as fast as inflation, pressured the regents to scale back tuition increases to no more than 4 percent a year.

4 percent limit

The regents agreed to limit tuition increases to 4 percent for four years in return for promises from Glendening and legislative leaders of increased state funding for colleges and universities, said Edwin S. Crawford, chairman of the regents' finance committee.

All but Coppin State College, which proposed a 3 percent tuition increase, are requesting the 4-percent maximum increase for next year.

Even at 4 percent, the costs of classroom instruction continue to outpace inflation, which has stayed below 2 percent for the past year. But university system officials insist the extra money from students and their parents is badly needed.

"We're catching up from all the years that the General Assembly wasn't putting money into the system," Crawford said.

Fees not limited

Fees remain a small fraction of tuition, but no limit has been put on what schools can charge. Increases for fall 1999 range from 3.3 percent at Salisbury State University to 16.5 percent at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

"We're asking a lot of our students," warned Susan E. Woda, a senior at College Park and the student representative on the Board of Regents. Many students must work at part-time jobs to help pay for their schooling, she said, and a $200 fee increase could force those earning $6 an hour to labor an extra 40 hours to cover it.

"They're stuck paying more money and they're not even able to enjoy the services the fees are supposed to fund," Busch said.

In the name of fun

Campus officials said the increased fees will pay for dormitories, student unions, recreation centers and other nonacademic facilities that the state will not finance.

At College Park, fees will go up 10.4 percent next fall, from $805 to $889. The increase will help pay for women's sports, construction and operation of a new $107 million performing arts center and renovation of the Stamp student union building.

UMES, in the tiny town of Princess Anne, is raising its mandatory fees by 14.4 percent next year to finance construction of a new student center featuring a bowling alley and movie theater, in addition to a dining hall.

"Students are social beings as well," said UMES President Dolores R. Spikes. "They have to have some recreation, and there's none in town."

UMBC, in suburban Catonsville, is boosting its fees 16.5 percent, in part to pay for new recreation facilities.

"We would rather have our students recreate on campus anyway," said Mark Behm, vice president for administrative affairs. "It builds community."

Willing to pay

In addition to mandatory charges, those who take certain classes may be asked to pay additional fees for the use of computers or other equipment.

"Students at most of our campuses have indicated their willingness to pay higher fees and tuition if they can see what they're getting for it," said Donald N. Langenberg, university system chancellor.

The regents' finance committee chairman endorsed the fee increases yesterday, but asked campus officials to justify the charges in the next 60 days.

"Everybody wants better housing," said Crawford, the panel's chairman. "People want more amenities." But he cautioned, "It's nothing that can grow for a long time at 10 to 14 percent. The parent faces the final bill, however you get there."


Proposed increases

School -- Bowie State University

'98-99 tuition (1) -- $2,719

'99'-- '00 tuition (1) -- $2,828

Increase -- 4%

'98 -- 99 fees (1) -- $748

'99 -- '00 fees (1) -- $836

Increase -- 11.8%

Overall increase -- 5.7%

School -- Coppin State College

TC '98 -- 99 tuition (1) -- 2,496

'99'-- '00 tuition (1) -- 2,571

Increase -- 3%

'98 -- 99 fees (1) -- 668

'99 -- '00 fees (1) -- 701

Increase -- 4.9%

Overall increase -- 3.4%

School -- Frostburg State University

'98 -- 99 tuition (1) -- 3,092

'99'-- '00 tuition (1) -- 3,216

Increase -- 4%

'98 -- 99 fees (1) -- 684

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