University System of Maryland officials gave state lawmakers formal notification yesterday that they plan to raise tuition for the coming school year at least 14 percent from last fall's costs.
The letter also said the increase could reach 20 percent if Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. follows through with his plan to cut an additional $500 million from the state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, system officials said.
Members of the system's Board of Regents had made it clear that to counter budget cuts, they would consider an unprecedented increase at their meeting next month. Yesterday's notification met a new legislative requirement that system officials alert the General Assembly in advance of large tuition increases.
Over the past school year, the system's budget has been reduced by $67 million, bringing its state funding to about $800 million. If Ehrlich cuts an additional $500 million from the state budget to reduce future deficits, $60 million more would be cut for the 11-campus university system.
Yesterday's notification makes it clear that tuition will increase significantly even if additional budget cuts aren't made. System officials say the letter gives this breakdown of the planned increase:
Last fall, regents approved a 4 percent increase for the 2003-2004 school year to address basic inflationary increases in the system's costs.
In January, they approved a 5 percent midyear increase to offset part of the $67 million reduction.
Next month, they will pass a 5 percent increase for next school year.
Taken together, that is an increase of more than 14 percent, which means in-state undergraduate tuition at the University of Maryland, College Park would be $640 more than it was last fall.
Half of the nearly $200 million cut from this year's and next year's system budget will be borne by students in the form of higher tuition.
System officials said they hope that further reductions will be forestalled and that another 5 percent increase - which would bring the one-year rise to 20 percent - won't be needed.
"We look forward to discussing this with the leaders of the General Assembly," said system spokesman Francis Canavan.