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Higher Education in Maryland

February 2008 Press Release




MHEC chief briefs Senate Budget Subcommittee

Tuition freeze, second year retention efforts among items before panel



Annapolis, MD (February 5, 2008)

Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons, Sr., joined with assistant secretaries George Reid and Andrea Mansfield February 1, 2008, to brief members of the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee on Health, Education and Human Resources Committee on the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s Fiscal 2009 Budget Overview.

Secretary Lyons addressed numerous specific issues raised in the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services’ Analysis of the Budget Overview after the MHEC panel presented the panel with a broader Higher Education Overview.

Secretary Lyons outlined his support of Governor O’Malley’s commitment to not raise college tuition at the University System of Maryland and Morgan State during Fiscal Year 2009.

“Tuition freezes over the past two years and efforts to moderate increases in mandatory fees have made USM institutions and Morgan State University more affordable for students and more attractive to Maryland’s citizens,” Secretary Lyons told the committee.

In FY2006, Maryland’s public institutions were ranked 7th most expensive in the country. In FY 2008, the second year of the tuition freeze under Governor O’Malley, Maryland’s public institutions were ranked 14th in affordability. If the Senate and House approve Governor O’Malley proposal for FY2009 this trend will continue substantially, Secretary Lyons said.

Secretary Lyons also addressed efforts to improve second year retention among higher education institutions as well as ongoing efforts to continue increasing graduation rates and the State’s public colleges and universities.

“The Commission monitors the actions and strategies that the public four-year colleges and universities have taken to improve their overall retention and graduation rates and to speed time to degree in its annual performance accountability report to the Governor and the General Assembly,” Secretary Lyons said.

Secretary Lyons went on to say that most institutions have learning support networks, early warning systems and safety nets for “at-risk” student s and “look for ways to connect students to campus life and academics.”

Additionally, Secretary Lyons told the panel that a comprehensive remedial education study for Maryland college and universities “is in order” and will be updated in 2009.

“I was very pleased that the Health, Education and Human Resources Subcommittee showed great interest and concern in our report,” Secretary Lyons said after the hearing. “They asked very formidable and direct questions. I look forward to continued good back and forth with the sub-committee and the full committee during the 2008 General Assembly Session.”

Secretary Lyons also pointed out that last year, working with the General Assembly, Governor O’Malley created the Higher Education Investment Fund, the first of its kind to dedicate a revenue stream to higher education. The purpose of the Fund is to keep tuition affordable for Maryland students and families and to invest in public higher education and workforce development.

“Under the newly created Higher Education Investment Fund, Governor O’Malley was able to freeze tuition for a third consecutive year, helping Maryland students and families make the dream of a college degree a reality,” said Secretary Lyons.

In Governor O’Malley’s FY 2009, $54.9 million from the Higher Education Trust Fund is dedicated to the University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, and the Maryland Higher Education Commission:

  • $16.3 million to freeze tuition at USM institutions and Morgan State University;

  • $11.5 million to expand enrollment by 1,529 students at USM institutions and 90 students at Morgan State University. USM enrollment projections suggest that by FY 2016, undergraduate enrollment will increase by 30%, from 98,000 to 127,000 students, and graduate enrollment will increase by 43%, from 37,000 to 54,000 students.

  • $1.5 million to narrow the achievement gap between low-income, first generation students and students of color compared to college students as a whole; and

  • $18.5 million for workforce/research/economic competitiveness to help meet the demand for graduates with professional degrees in nursing and other health fields, engineering, science, and math.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and universities and private career schools. It serves as an advocate for more than 325,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.

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