Chancellor Kirwan Comments on Tuition Trends; Calls for Increase in Need-Based Aid

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 18, 2005) William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland (USM), said today that the recent slowing in the rate of tuition increases at public universities reflects a move in the "right direction, at least for the moment."

Kirwan joined University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and Prince George's Community College President Ronald Williams to comment on the release of the College Board's 2005 reports, "Trends in College Pricing" and "Trends in Student Aid." Both reports were released at a news conference this morning at the National Press Club in Washington.

The College Board, an association of more than 4,700 schools, colleges and universities, concluded that increases in tuition at public institutions are significantly smaller in 2005-06 than they were in the last two years. Tuition and fees increased an average of 7.1% at four-year public institutions during 2005-06, compared to 10% in 2004-05, 13% in 2003-04, and 9% in 2002-03.

Kirwan said that "although within the University System of Maryland we were able to keep tuition increases at less than 6% this year, significant challenges still exist." He pointed to the "baby boom echo"-the children of baby boomers-who have yet to arrive on campuses. "This population is large, disproportionately minority and low income, and fully expects to move on to college after graduating high school. We must address this issue now-with capacity, accessibility, and affordability efforts."

The report "Trends in Student Aid" showed that almost $129 billion in total aid was distributed during the 2004-05 academic year. But although grant aid is growing, the College Board expressed concern about the increasing reliance-especially among low-income students-on student loans to finance a college education.

Kirwan echoed this concern, saying "In order to ensure that all qualified students have access to an affordable education, there must be more emphasis on student aid-especially need-based aid, as opposed to loans.

"At the University System of Maryland, we established a Financial Aid Task Force focused on improving the balance between merit aid and need-based aid in order to target students who would otherwise not be able to afford college. Governor Ehrlich supported this approach with an increase in need-based aid delivered at the state level."

Kirwan also called for states to continue to reinvest in higher education and for higher education to demonstrate that it can hold down costs.

The 2005 College Board reports on trends in college pricing and student aid can be found at http://collegeboard.com.

Contact: Liz O'Neill

301.445.2719
E-mail: loneill@usmd.edu