ANNAPOLIS – The cost to attend a public college in Maryland continues to be one of the highest in the country, although it hasn’t increased as much as the national average, according to a recent report and state higher education statistics.
The average price for tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year public universities in Maryland for the 2001-2002 school year is about $4,880, up 3.9 percent from the last school year.
The national average in the same school year increased 7.7 percent to $3,754, according to a report released Oct. 22 by the College Board, a nonprofit organization that issues college preparation materials.
Costs for a Maryland public education have traditionally been higher than the rest of the nation, but increases have slowed in the past four years, said Carol Berthold, associate vice-chancellor at the University System of Maryland. The system is the governing body for 11 of the state’s 13 four-year public institutions.
“Our board has a policy to not exceed 4 percent,” she said. “What they were trying to do is set a rate that students could plan on and would meet institutional needs.”
Institutional costs for services such as utilities, information technology and building construction keep tuition rising, she said. Plus, problems would arise if salaries were not raised.
“If you didn’t, you wouldn’t get your good people and you wouldn’t keep your good people,” she said. “There are many, many costs and they have to go up each year.”
Tuition remains higher than the national average, especially compared to colleges and universities farther west.
“Generally you’ll find that in the Northeast, tuition is much higher,” Berthold said.
Average tuition and fees for the Mid-Atlantic region — which includes Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., – increased about 2 percent to $4,892 for 2001-2002, according to the College Board report.
“I think that a lot of the state support has tended to favor the private institutions (in the Northeast)” Berthold said. “That has been reversed recently.”
The number of students receiving financial aid increased to balance the rising tuition costs, according to a study released by the Maryland Higher Education Commission in June.
About 60 percent of Maryland undergraduate students receive financial aid, parallel to the national rate and up from about 38 percent in 1989.
State funding for financial aid increased three-fold, up to about $70 million in 2001, according to the report.
“(The General Assembly) is trying to make up for years and years of neglect,” Berthold said.
Tuition is likely to increase at the same rate for University System of Maryland institutions for the 2002-2003 school year, according to requests submitted to the Board of Regents in August.
Tuition increase requests average about 4 percent, with one school requesting 7 percent, Berthold said. The Board of Regents will vote to approve the requests in March.
Two-year public college tuition in Maryland also increased in the past year at about the same rate as four-year colleges and universities.
Tuition at the 16 community colleges in Maryland increased an average of 3.5 percent to about $2,300. Nationally, such increases averaged $1,738, a 5.5 percent hike from the previous year.