The University System of Maryland will maintain last academic year’s tuition and room and board rates for the upcoming school year, according to a system press release Friday.
Following a recommendation put forth by system Chancellor Jay Perman on June 10, the Board of Regents — which sets policy for the system’s 12 institutions — voted to freeze the rates. The decision signals the board’s efforts to ease the financial strain hoisted on many students and families by the coronavirus pandemic, regents Chairwoman Linda Gooden said in the release.
“The Board of Regents is profoundly aware of the pressures facing everyone in higher education during this time—faculty, staff, and especially students,” she said. “Our students worked hard to adjust to the unexpected changes brought on by the pandemic while also completing their academic work—they ‘pushed through’ these challenges all the way to the final weeks of the 2020 spring semester.”
Unemployment rates have been sky-high during the pandemic. For two straight weeks in early April, unemployment filings topped 6.5 million. And last week marked the 13th straight week that more than one million people filed claims. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the record for the most claims filed in a single week was 695,000, in 1982.
Still, according to the press release, the decision to hold both rates steady was not an easy one. Revenue from these rates funds activities such as instruction, academic counseling, financial aid, health centers, security and other administrative costs — including training for remote learning, according to the release.
Furthermore, the pandemic gutted the budgets of higher education institutions across the country. In April, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh estimated the school would lose about $80 million and the system announced in May that institutions have stopped or greatly reduced hiring. The system is also reducing the amount of money put aside to fund future construction projects and maintain existing facilities and is counseling its institutions to determine whether vacant positions can be eliminated.
Even so, the system predicted that universities would need to enact furloughs and layoffs to offset the losses — especially since the changes they will have to implement to open their campuses safely in the fall will be costly.
Nonetheless, according to the release, the regents and Perman “felt the need to support students and families during an even greater time of economic challenge and uncertainty.”
“By freezing tuition for the upcoming year, we’re trying to ease the financial strain on our students and families, while continuing to offer the highest quality academic experience, an experience that defines our University System institutions,” Perman said.