Carla Beckford works 30 hours a week at three jobs to pay out-of-state tuition at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She knew it wasn’t going to get any easier. But she didn’t think it would get worse.
Beckford is in her sixth year of school. It will take her two more years to get into the real world — chiefly, she says, because of the high cost of classes.
When she does graduate, the 23-year-old senior can look forward to paying off $20,000 in student loans.
Already strapped, Beckford is bracing herself as the University of Maryland System Board of Regents prepares to vote Thursday on tuition recommendations from its nine campuse presidents.
Proposed increases for in-state students range from 3 percent at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bowie State University to 9.9 percent at the University of Maryland College Park. Proposed increases for out-of-state students range from none at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to 21.8 percent at the University of Baltimore.
College administrators say that inadequate state funding is crippling Maryland universities.
“There is nothing we could do,” said Leslie Copeland, a spokeswoman at the University of Maryland College Park. “What basically has happened is that over the years the money we receive from the state has decreased.”
In 1991, state money accounted for more than 50 percent of the flagship campus’ budget. In 1995, it made up less than 30 percent, Copeland said.
Tuition for full-time, in-state undergraduates at College Park has risen 84 percent in the last seven years, from $1,724 in 1989-’90 to $3,179 during the 1995-96 school year.
Out-of-state students will be hardest hit if the increases pass. At the University of Baltimore, for instance, they would pay $7,626 beginning next fall — $1,366 more than now.
“The Board of Regents has really mandated a policy that all out-of-state students pay the full cost of education,” Harry Bosk, a University of Baltimore spokesman, said.
Schools must be in compliance by 1998 with that Regents’ policy, unless they obtain a waiver. The same policy holds in- state students responsible for 30 to 45 percent of their education costs.
The idea is that Maryland tax dollars won’t subsidize the educations of non-residents. But at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, out-of-state students subsidize in-state students by paying 104 percent of costs.
Beckford, a Connecticut resident, stands to pay $8,192 each year for an education university officials say costs only $7,876 to provide.
When the Board of Regents’ tuition policy went into effect in 1993, UMBC’s out-of-state tuition was already higher than the cost of education, explained Mark Behm, vice president of administrative affairs. So the campus held the line on out-of- state tuition, waiting for the cost of education to catch up.
“Then, after a few years of not increasing, it became an issue of fairness,” Behm said. If Maryland residents had to face increases, administrators reasoned, shouldn’t the entire student body?
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, in Princess Anne, is the only other school where out-of-state students pay more than the cost of education. Under recommendaitons to the regents, they would pay 104 percent.
Meanwhile, university administrators worry that the 4 percent increase Gov. Parris N. Glendening has promised for higher education won’t be enough. Recent increases in state funding have not kept pace with mandated costs and inflation, they complain.
“We weren’t looking for great increases,” Richard Pusey, Salisbury State’s vice president of finance, said last week of state tax dollars. “But surely we thought we would get the money for these mandatory increases.”
Among the mandates — costs the campuses are required to cover under law — are cost-of-living increases and promotional raises for state employees, Pusey said.
Frostburg State has traditionally kept its tuition low, to compete with schools in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. But this year its administrators seek a 6.7 percent increase from all undergraduates.
David Rose, assistant vice president for budget and finance, said Frostburg was not alone. Competitors in neighboring states were raising tuition as well.
“Things in the past that were normally paid by the state, we have to charge students for,” Rose said.
A Frostburg education represented the 2nd-best bargain its region two years ago, but has dropped to 7th, Rose said.
“We can rationalize it and compare it too other states, and say we are a good deal — but that’s still money out of our student’s pockets,” he said.
Overall, in-state tuition and fees at the University of Maryland System’s research institutions — College Park and Baltimore County — rank fourth when compared to public universities in six neighboring states. Among non-research institutions, Maryland’s campuses rank third, said Judy Scioli, a system spokeswoman. -30-