This past Saturday, during its regular session, the Maryland Legislature passed the state’s FY15 budget which includes funds for an 8.6% tuition reduction for in-state undergraduate students attending St. Mary’s College of Maryland. In doing so, the Legislature adopted a $1.5 million grant proposal by Governor Martin O’Malley expressly for the purpose of tuition relief.
“We are grateful to Governor O’Malley and the Maryland State Legislature for their ongoing commitment to higher education and to St. Mary’s College of Maryland,” said Interim President Ian Newbould. Newbould explained that the tuition relief is budget neutral to the college in terms of revenue. “The funding will go directly to Maryland families; none will be used for the college’s operating costs,” he said.
The legislation enables the Board of Trustees to reduce the 2014-15 in-state undergraduate tuition rate it set in February. The Board will convene a special meeting on April 11 for the sole purpose of voting to reduce tuition by more than $1,000. With the Board’s approval, the new, reduced tuition rate will take effect in the fall of 2014.
Speaking on behalf of the Board, Chair Gail Harmon said, “St. Mary’s College relies on the state’s enduring support to fulfill our special mission for Maryland’s students. The Legislature’s decision affirms the college’s dual mandates: the promise of public education, accessible to all, combined with high standards of academic excellence. This is wonderful news for our students and their families.”
Delegate John Bohanan, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development and champion of the legislation, said, “We were able to address the tuition challenge in a significant way for Maryland students attending St. Mary’s. The college is a tremendous asset for our state, and we are pleased to have this opportunity to moderate the cost of attendance.” Bohanan was also co-sponsor on a bill approved by the state’s House and Senate in 2013 that froze in-state undergraduate tuition at St. Mary’s College for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. The tuition freeze combined with the reduced tuition rate yields more than $2,000 in cost savings for Maryland families.
St. Mary’s has contributed significantly to the state’s college completion goal. Over the past 20 years, the college has increased enrollment of Maryland residents by nearly 50%. Currently, 85% of the college’s student body comes from Maryland. St. Mary’s has the highest four-year graduation rate among Maryland public higher education institutions and the third highest graduation rate in the nation amongst small public colleges. Over the past two years, St. Mary’s College has awarded 25% of its degrees in STEM-related fields, compared to the state-wide average of 20%.