A $1.4 billion proposal from Gov. Larry Hogan could help lessen the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on tuition at University System of Maryland schools, according to a Friday press release.

With this state support, the USM could limit the rise of in-state tuition to only 2 percent, according to the press release

The USM budget has taken a record hit over the last fiscal years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fiscal year 2020, $173 million was slashed from the budget due to revenue losses from event cancellations, housing and fee refunds and costs for safety protocols, among other factors. In fiscal year 2021, the budget sustained an even bigger loss of $542 million.

USM has taken assertive measures to minimize the damage, said USM Chancellor Jay Perman. The system eliminated vacant positions, cut discretionary spending, implemented temporary salary reductions and postponed construction and facilities maintenance, among other initiatives, according to the release.

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But despite their efforts, the system still lost $715 million in the past two years and had concerns that without more to cut, the budget hole would become deeper and move USM “from a difficult position to a devastating one,” Perman wrote.

In a January 2019 press release, Hogan announced the state would provide $1.45 billion  in state funds to USM —  a 4.2 percent increase over the past year and the highest ever allotted to higher education. 

In the press release, Hogan said the funds demonstrated the state’s commitment to a “world-class higher education system.” Perman shared the same sentiment in his own press release and was reassured by the proposal. 

“I’m relieved that the governor’s proposal of $1.4 billion in state support next year reflects a cut of only half-a-percent from our FY21 adjusted budget,” Perman said in the Friday release.