USM Institutions are Among Nation's Most Affordable Colleges and Universities

Tuition Prices, Student Debt Levels Remain Below National Average for Marylanders

Baltimore, Md. (Oct. 31, 2019) -- As the College Board prepares to release the 2019 edition of its Trends in College Pricing report, Maryland families considering affordable college options need look no further than the institutions in the University System of Maryland (USM).  Tuition prices and student-debt levels for USM institutions remain below national averages—in some cases far below—and increasing graduation rates mean students are spending less time in school paying tuition.

Published Tuition and Fees are Below National Average
Institutions in the USM remain among the most affordable when it comes to published tuition prices—particularly for state residents. The 2018 edition Trends in College Pricing showed public in-state tuition and fees in Maryland below the national average for the 2018-19 academic year--$9,474 versus $10,230.  In addition, the same College Board data ranked Maryland 24th among the 50 states for public in-state tuition and fees—more affordable than neighboring states like Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Most USM Students Graduate with Little or No Debt
An even better affordability story involves student debt loads at USM institutions—with nearly 60 percent of in-state students graduating with little or no debt.  This is substantially below the national average.

USM data show nearly half (48 percent) of in-state baccalaureate recipients in 2018 completed their college experience with zero debt—with another 12 percent graduating with debt levels of less than $10,000.  This is substantially below the $29,200 national average for 2018 cited by The Institute for College Access & Success, or TICAS.  For in-state USM students who did graduate owing money, the median debt level was roughly $25,000.

Rising Completion Rates Mean Less Cost
The USM is also keeping costs down by decreasing the time-to-degree-completion and striving for continued improvement in 6-year-graduation rates. According to USM Institutional Research, system institutions conferred more than 27,000 bachelor’s degrees during the 2018-2019 academic year. The most recent cohort of first-time, full-time freshmen represents a graduation rate of 72 percent--an all-time high for any six-year USM cohort. That means nearly three-quarters of first-time freshman students will graduate within six years (the national benchmark period) from a USM institution.  This progress in degree completion has occurred at the same time the USM has increased its diversity, with students of color comprising the majority of undergraduate (and graduate) students across the system.

Student Aid, Campus Programs Add to Affordability
During FY 2018, USM institutions awarded a total of more than $161.4 Million in undergraduate institutional aid. More than 91,000 undergraduates received aid, with an average award (consisting of some combination of loans, grants, and work-study) of $11,386.

“Students and families in Maryland are extremely fortunate to have so many high-quality, public colleges and universities available to them that are also affordable,” said USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret. “This results from the commitment and dedication of the USM Board of Regents—the generous financial support and commitment to affordability we have in Annapolis—and the hard work of efficiency and effectiveness that takes place at our institutions each and every day.”

USM institutions are committed to offering programs and scholarships designed to make the college experience more affordable for students and their families.

Ranked No. 2 among public historically black universities in the 2019-20 “Best Colleges for Your Money” list by Money magazine, Bowie State University works to couple financial literacy with financial aid. Students admitted to Bowie State University have access to a suite of financial education resources to help families with strategies to make college more affordable. A special financial literacy initiative with the Society for Financial Education and Professional Development provides webinars; one-on-one consultations and group presentations to help students and parents understand financial aid, personal money management and debt management strategies to help students successfully navigate the financial waters associated with attending college. To help transfer students make the transition to Bowie State, a multi-level institutional scholarship program provides targeted financial assistance towards the bachelor’s degree. During the 2018-19 academic year, more than 100 transfer students received awards ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, based on eligibility requirements.

Frostburg State University in recent years has established two new scholarships to help students ensure they don’t leave school with only a few credits shy of completing their degree, due to a drain on personal budgets. The inaugural Unfinished Business Scholarship arose during summer 2017 through FSU’s first crowdfunding campaign, which raised funds primarily from members of a private Facebook group, Fifty Shades of Frostburg (FSOF). FSOF began as a social group for Frostburg alumni. It has since grown to more than 10,000 members, and the group has taken on several fundraising projects. A second and similar grant program, the Masser Family Unfinished Business Scholarship is a source of endowed funding that can help a student who is close to completing a degree and might fall $1,000 short to register for a semester without this additional grant.

At the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), the Transfer Student Alliance (TSA) is a successful member benefit program for students who want to complete an associate's degree at a Maryland community college (often to economize) before transferring to UMBC. Prior to transfer, TSA students receive an admissions application fee waiver, 25% tuition discount for one UMBC course per semester, access to UMBC facilities such as libraries and computer labs, and other benefits. Later, eligible students are guaranteed admission to a UMBC undergraduate program, an annual $1,500 merit scholarship for up to two years, priority advising, and on-campus housing.

The flagship University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) campus offers an array of financial aid programs as part of its commitment to making an excellent education affordable. The recently launched Maryland Promise program provides need-based scholarships to undergraduate students from underserved populations in Maryland and the District of Columbia. The Banneker/Key Scholarship, the most prestigious merit scholarship offered to incoming UMD freshmen, can cover up to the full cost of tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, a book allowance, and includes admission to the Honors College.  Each fall, roughly 150 new Banneker/Key Scholars are welcomed to UMCP. The Incentive Awards Program offers scholarships to incoming students from Baltimore City or Prince George’s County public high schools based on outstanding character, academic commitment, financial need and the ability to prevail against difficult circumstances. This program covers tuition, fees, room and board for four years, or eight semesters, not to exceed financial need. Scholars receive academic coaching, advising, faculty/staff mentorship, and leadership and networking opportunities. The Frederick Douglass Scholarship benefits academically talented transfer students from a Maryland community college. UMCP campus success in its high graduation rate (85 percent) and short time-to-degree of 4.2 years helped it attain a high ranking in the August 2019 “Best Colleges for Your Money” survey from Money magazine.

Salisbury University (SU) initiated the inaugural Lead From the Front Scholarship, a new institutional aid award of $12,000 (payable in yearly $3,000 installments) that President Charles Wight envisioned to recognize incoming students who have a demonstrated record of acting as change agents with their communities and fostering student civic engagement. Collectively, SU provided more than $11 million in scholarship gift aid to students last year.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Princess Anne offers its students a broad range of scholarships made possible by gifts from alumni, philanthropists, foundations and corporations. Some are earmarked for students from Maryland's lower Eastern Shore, but alumni also support students from all locations, including international students. Most scholarships are need-based, but the Richard A. Henson Honors Program also offers merit scholarships to deserving students from across the university's diverse academic offerings.  Restricted scholarships assist qualified students in the PGA Golf Management program, Agricultural and Natural Sciences, Pharmacy, Aviation Science and other programs. The Richard F. Hazel Scholars' program annually supports students from the Eastern Shore of Maryland pursuing teaching careers as well as those in a variety of other disciplines.  

Towson University is recognized as one of the best value institutions in the nation — ranked by both Forbes and U.S. News & World Report in the past year. TU’s Provost and Tiger Scholarships are the university’s largest awards for the most competitive freshman applicants. Awards amounts vary based on applicant strength and tuition rate (in-state or out-of-state). Additional scholarship opportunities include the Honors College Scholarships, Departmental Scholarships, and the Transfer Achievement Award for students transferring directly from a community college in Maryland. Towson University in Northeastern Maryland (TUNE) offers transfer students the flexibility to pursue a four-year degree after they complete an associate’s degree at a community college. Located on the grounds of Harford Community College, the building offers state-of-the-art classrooms, labs and educational resources. TUNE provides a seamless transfer for students pursuing a four-year undergraduate degree after completing their associate degree. Through innovative partnerships with Maryland community colleges, students in northeastern Maryland can enroll in nine specific degree programs, including elementary/special education, information technology, and nursing, or earn credit for electives offered by Towson University closer to home. The campus in Bel Air is the closest USM entity near Cecil County and the Delaware state line.

Coppin State University in west Baltimore offers 12 scholarship programs, including the Maxie Collier Scholars Program for students headed into health career positions in Maryland and the Senior Opportunity Scholarship. The university has a unique partnership program, Finish 4Free, with Baltimore City Community College. Graduating 2-year-college students who attended Baltimore City Public Schools may continue their progression toward a bachelor’s degree at no cost.

Washington Monthly “2019 College Rankings” recently named the University of Baltimore No. 1 in Maryland for “Best Bang for the Buck in the Northeast” and No. 18 overall for the Northeast region.

Founded more than 70 years ago to serve the higher education needs of working adults, the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) provides a wide range of online programs in high-demand fields. UMGC is committed to affordability in several ways, including no-cost digital resources that have replaced textbooks for nearly every course, saving students thousands of dollars over the course of their degree program, as well as a scholarship program for Maryland community college graduates. The "Maryland Completion Scholarship" enables Maryland community college graduates to complete their bachelor's degree at UMGC for a total cost (for both the associate and bachelor's degrees) of approximately $20,000 or less. More than 9,600 of these scholarships have been awarded and more than 2,500 "Completion Scholars" have graduated from UMGC since the program was created in 2014.

At the start of the fall 2019 semester, the USM Hagerstown regional center announced the names of 25 students who are receiving USM Hagerstown 2019-20 Scholarship Awards. The winners are in numerous undergraduate and graduate degree programs from Frostburg State, Towson University, and Salisbury University. The Universities at Shady Grove (USG), another successful USM regional center, achieves average savings of $8,000 for students who complete the “2+2” community college-to-USG pathway of completing the two-year degree before finishing a bachelor’s degree with one nine participating USM institutions there. Approximately 4,000 students attend programs at USG each year, with 52 percent of them applying for and receiving scholarships. The USM on March 1 officially welcomed the former Southern Maryland Higher Education Center as its third regional center, known as the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland (USMSM).


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719