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College costs continue to rise

October 18, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Today, The Herald-Mail is taking a local look at rising college costs - one day before the College Board is scheduled to release its annual nationwide survey.

The accompanying chart includes 13 Tri-State colleges and universities; out-of-area schools with local branches; and state schools - the University of Maryland at College Park and West Virginia University - that draw local students.

Among dozens of fees and charges, only one did not increase: yearly room and board at Hood College in Frederick, Md., which was $7,520 in 2003-04 and again this year.

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No school expense on the chart went up more than the University of Maryland at College Park's in-state tuition, which rose from $5,568 to $7,410, or 33 percent.

Out-of-state tuition went up more in amount, but less than half as much in percentage. It rose from $16,242 to $18,710, or 15 percent.

Asked if the university was trying to keep tuition increases from exceeding a certain amount or percentage, spokeswoman Cassandra Robinson said, "That went out the window when the state started not funding us."

Robinson said "major budget cuts" to higher education the last two years are responsible for recent tuition and fee increases for students.

"This year, we're looking at no (funding) cut, but no new money," she said.

The general fund for the University System of Maryland, which includes the University of Maryland at College Park, was cut by $118.6 million, or 13.7 percent, from fiscal 2002 to fiscal 2004, according to a budget overview.

Other than money for the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown and Coppin State University, the general fund was kept at the same level for fiscal 2005, the budget overview says.

The smallest increase among schools on the chart was at Frederick Community College, where the cost per credit hour for out-of-state students rose from $245 to $249, or 1.6 percent.

If not for the University of Maryland at College Park, the average tuition increase among the schools listed would have been higher for out-of-state students than for in-state students.

With the University of Maryland at College Park, though, the average in-state tuition increase was 11.8 percent, while the average out-of-state increase was 10.4 percent.

The Penn State University system changed the way it assessed costs for its schools, including Penn State Mont Alto, eliminating the chance to evenly compare last year's amounts to this year's.

The school's new fee and tuition schedules include different rates for students admitted before the Summer 2003 semester than for those admitted during the Summer 2003 semester or after.

In each case, students admitted later will be charged a little more.

"They didn't want to increase the tuition so significantly for the students who were already here," Penn State Mont Alto spokeswoman Holly Cieri said.

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