St. Mary’s College of Maryland is pleased that the legislative analyst’s report recognizes the College’s substantial success in meeting and exceeding expectations on a number of measures. In particular, the College has tremendous pride in its superlative retention rate, six-year graduation rate, and high proportion of graduating minority students. That the College continues to offer a preeminent public liberal arts education at a tuition far lower than that of its private peers is testament to the success of the College’s mission in providing quality education to benefit the residents of the State of Maryland. We will continue to actively promote scholarship and creativity by challenging our students to achieve academic excellence through close relationships with faculty, classroom activities, and experiential learning.
1. The President should comment on the expected decline in six-year graduation rates, particularly for all minorities.
Enrollment data reveals an unusually low first-to-second year retention rate for African-American students entering in the fall of 2002. Specifically, first-to-second year retention for African-American students was 82% for the fall semester of 2000 and the 2001 entering class, but only 68% for the entering class of the 2002 fall semester. This early attrition will have a negative impact on subsequent graduation rates of African-American and all minority students after 2002. This unusual attrition rate is specific to the 2002 matriculants. First-to-second year retention for African-Americans entering in the fall of 2003 was 87% and subsequently increased to 100% for those entering in the fall of 2004.
2. The President should comment on the college’s use of auxiliary revenues to cover E&G expenses.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland is residential as a key feature of its mission of educating students through both curricular and co-curricular programming. The College encourages students to take both room and board plans given limited and costly rental housing in the surrounding area. The College plans and administers room, board, and other auxiliary offerings to consistently operate with surplus revenue. It should also be noted that the College’s auxiliary revenues have risen rapidly during this decade as over four hundred more students are now housed on campus.
3. The President should comment on future plans to award more aid to students with greater financial need, whether it is need-based or merit.
The College’s long term strategic plan commits to annual increases in need-based and merit-based scholarship support at least equal to the rate of tuition increase. For the past several years, and for FY08, our policy has been to devote new scholarship dollars to need-based aid. We intend to continue that policy in the immediate future, noting that the patterns of aid acceptance by incoming classes vary somewhat between the need and merit categories.
During the Maryland Heritage Campaign, the College raised $9,024,676 for scholarships. Almost 100% of the new scholarships are provided as need-based aid. Forty-nine percent of institutional aid is need-based, a number that continues to rise.