Regents approve tuition increase averaging 10%

Vote is 12-3 to raise costs at Md.'s public universities

October 18, 2003|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Students at the state's public universities will take another financial hit next fall as the University System of Maryland Board of Regents voted yesterday to raise tuition by an average 10 percent.

During their meeting at Frostburg State University, board members voted 12-3 in favor of the higher fees. The University of Maryland, College Park suffered the hardest blow with an 11.4 percent tuition increase to $6,200 a year, while other schools in the 11-campus system will see increases ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent.

"We're really getting the short end of the stick," said Tim Daly, student body president at the College Park campus. "Tuition costs are just spiraling out of control."

The regents and other system officials say the tuition increases are needed to offset flat state funding in the coming year. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has said that the budget he will present to the General Assembly in January will give the system the same funding it receives now, $746 million.

Without an increase in funding, system officials said, they would suffer a $71 million shortfall next year because of increases in utility rates, the operation of new facilities and employee salaries. They expect to close most of the budget gap with $55 million raised from the new tuition rates and the rest through efficiency measures.

The decision to raise tuition was widely expected after the regents' finance committee recommended the action last week.

Those voting against the higher fees were former state Del. James C. Rosapepe, attorney A. Dwight Pettit and student regent Phillip Shockley. Two regents were absent.

In addition to the increases at College Park, the rates approved yesterday would raise full-time, in-state tuition at Towson University by 8 percent, to $4,890; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County by 9.9 percent, to $6,120; and Coppin State College by 6 percent, to $3,330.

With the new rates, tuition for most students will have increased by more than 30 percent over two years.

Regent Richard E. Hug, Ehrlich's chief campaign fund-raiser and one of the governor's first appointees to the board, doesn't want to stop there. He has said he would like tuition to double over the next five years, which would generate $600 million for the system.

Critics of the increases argue that they could have been avoided if the system would trim administrative pay and cut back on new construction.

Sun staff writer Jeff Barker contributed to this article.

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