January 8, 2003
As most of you are aware, the State of Maryland is facing a significant deficit in its budget both this year and next. Along with many State agencies and programs, the University System of Maryland (USM) (representing 11 public degree-granting institutions) has already been required to reduce substantially its budget for this year.
So far this year the USM’s budget has been cut by $42.5 million. Our institutions absorbed this reduction mainly by hiring freezes, eliminating vacant positions, reducing selected operating expenses, and without imposing mid-year tuition increases. It was our expectation that these steps would address our share of the state’s overall $500 million shortfall for this fiscal year (July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003). These steps reflected the commitment of the Presidents, the Chancellor and the Regents to actions that would have the least impact on students; protect the quality of academic and research programs; and minimize hardship for our dedicated faculty and staff.
Regrettably, based on our analysis of the state’s continuing fiscal condition, the state’s latest revenue estimates, and the circumstances in other states across the country, we must alert you to the real possibility of further significant cuts this year. This would place the System institutions in a very difficult situation both because of the previous cuts and because we are more than halfway through the fiscal year. Should such cuts occur, it may be necessary for some System institutions to reduce personnel costs further and impose a mid-year tuition increase. We consider a mid-year tuition increase to be an extraordinary step. It would be taken only to ensure that our institutions are able to maintain a high quality of education and essential student services.
If a mid-year tuition increase becomes necessary, we anticipate that it would not exceed 5% for the spring semester. If this unfortunate step must be taken, we assure you that accommodations would be made for students who are eligible for need-based aid. Our institutions also would provide flexibility in the schedule of payment for the additional tuition. Moreover, we assure you that the burden of further cuts will not be borne solely by the students.
Your institution has been asked to keep you informed as the budget process unfolds and will contact you as soon as possible of any decision regarding tuition. In addition, we encourage you to visit the USM website, www.usmd.edu, for budget updates.
We truly regret the need to convey this news to you at the start of a New Year. On the other hand, we firmly believe that the fiscal circumstances facing our state and our institutions are short term in nature. By preparing for decisive steps now we can ensure the quality of your degree programs and continue the impressive advances our System institutions have made over the past decade.
Clifford M. Kendall,
Chairman of the USM Board of Regents
William E. Kirwan, Chancellor,
University System of Maryland