USM Institutions Remain Among the Most Affordable Universities in Nation
Tuition Prices, Student Debt Levels Remain Below National Average for Marylanders
Baltimore, Md. (Oct. 31, 2022) – The latest release of the College Board’s annual Trends in College Pricing report confirms that Maryland families continue to benefit from the University System of Maryland’s (USM) commitment to offering affordable options at its institutions. Tuition prices and student-debt levels for USM colleges remain below national averages. And consistently strong graduation rates mean students spend less time in school paying tuition and other college costs.
Published Tuition and Fees are Below National Average
Institutions in the USM remain among the nation’s most affordable when it comes to published tuition prices—especially for state residents. The 2022 edition of Trends in College Pricing showed public in-state tuition and fees in Maryland below the national average for the 2022-23 academic year—$10,560 versus $10,940.
In addition, the same College Board data ranked Maryland directly in the middle – 25th – among the 50 states for public in-state tuition and fees.
The state of Maryland’s public in-state tuition and fees are substantially more affordable than neighboring states such as Pennsylvania (4th most-expensive state), Virginia (8th most-expensive) and Delaware (11th most-expensive).
“USM affordability is the result of relentless attention and effort,” said USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman. “Our leaders—across the System and the state—prioritize college access. And access doesn’t happen unless you keep costs down. Affordability is a pledge we’ve made to our students and to their families, and it’s a pledge we’ve kept. Because when you provide an education as excellent as ours, you want everyone to be able to take advantage of it.”
Most USM Students Graduate with Little or No Debt
An equally compelling affordability snapshot 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 that approximately 50 percent of the system’s in-state baccalaureate recipients in 2021 completed their college experience with zero debt. The zero-debt figure includes not just tuition debt but student fees, and room and board expenses. Roughly 12 percent of students graduated with debt levels of less than $10,000.
These favorable affordability outcomes are especially strong when considered in a national context. In its most recent collection of data, the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), found that average student debt in 19 states was more than $30,000. In six states, average student debt was over $35,000.
For in-state USM students who did graduate owing money beyond the range of zero dollars to $10,000, the median debt level remains at about $25,000.
Rising Completion Rates Mean Less Cost
The USM is also keeping costs down by decreasing time-to-degree-completion and striving for continued improvement in 6-year-graduation rates. According to USM Institutional Research, system institutions conferred more than 28,000 bachelor’s degrees during the 2021-22 academic year.
For the cohort of first-time, full-time freshmen that enrolled at USM schools in fall 2016, 71 percent had graduated by spring 2022. This six-year graduation rate (the national benchmark period) nearly matches a prior all-time high for the USM (72 percent for the fall 2014 cohort). And it’s significantly higher than the national six-year rate of 62 percent. Eighty-five (85) percent of USM freshmen who entered in fall 2020 returned for their sophomore year, consistent with a 10-year pattern of sophomore-year retention rates falling within an impressive range of 84 to 86 percent.
This progress in degree completion has occurred while 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
USM institutions are committed to offering programs and scholarships designed to make the college experience more affordable for students and their families. For fiscal year 2021, the USM provided more than $1.64 billion in financial aid to students at all levels. The average financial aid award to undergraduates was $10,880, with nearly 60 percent of that aid in the form of grants, scholarships, and work-study.
Coppin State University recently announced the cohort of students selected for the Ozzie Newsome Scholars Program inaugural class. Funded through the Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation, the program provides $10,000 annual scholarships to Baltimore City Public Schools graduates attending historically Black institutions in Maryland. Meanwhile, Coppin State and the Community College of Baltimore County launched their Pathways to Success Program, a dual admission program that lets enroll at both institutions and makes the process of obtaining their associate’s and bachelors degrees more efficient.
On Oct. 24, the University of Maryland, College Park announced the Terrapin Commitment, a substantial new investment in need-based financial aid. The initiative will provide up to $20 million annually for in-state students. The program will begin in January 2023 and ensures that tuition and fees are fully covered for low-income, Pell Grant-eligible in-state students who are enrolled full-time and have unmet financial need. The Terrapin Commitment will significantly reduce financial barriers to completing a college education for low-income Marylanders.
For the 10th consecutive year, Washington Monthly magazine recently named Salisbury University (SU) to its list of “Best Bang for the Buck Colleges.” SU was ranked at No. 59 in the U.S. among master’s-level universities, and No. 106 for value among all universities in the Northeast. For the ninth straight year, Forbes magazine named SU to its list of “America’s Top Colleges.” The ranking methodology includes factors such as student debt and on-time graduation rates. For the 26th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked SU among the “Best Colleges in the U.S.,” placing the institution at No. 63 among master’s-level universities, and No. 40 among “Best Value Schools” in the North.
In late August, Towson University was named Maryland’s “Best Bang for the Buck” in the Washington Monthly 2022 College Guide and rankings. The magazine notes that schools were “ranked according to how well they help non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.” The university improved 16 spots from last year. In spring 2022, Money magazine named TU to its list of Best Colleges in America by Value.
The recent U.S. News & World Report 2022-2023 Best Colleges edition ranked Bowie State University among the best schools serving students with financial need. The university rose 35 places to rank No. 41 on the list of Top Performers in Social Mobility among regional universities in the north.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) offers several scholars programs. These include G-RISE, supporting graduate students from underrepresented groups in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with up to three years of funding and an array of training opportunities. The goal is to help participants select and prepare for a range of career paths in academia, industry, government, entrepreneurship, or beyond. The program is newly funded with $5.6 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in spring 2022. U-RISE, the Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement, replaced the highly successful MARC U*STAR program in fall 2020. The NIH program emphasizes key elements that are proven to increase students’ success in research careers, especially for students from underrepresented groups in biomedical sciences. Other UMBC scholars programs include STEM BUILD and the USM LSAMP program to support students from underrepresented groups in STEM.
In its recent “Best Colleges 2023 rankings,” U.S. News & World Report recognized the University of Baltimore as a Top Performer for Social Mobility and Washington Monthly named UBalt to its list of “Best Bang for the Buck” colleges.
At the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 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 university’s Mature Women’s Education Grant is available to women 25 and over who are Dorchester County residents and show a financial need.
SmartAsset, a New York-based financial company, ranked Frostburg State University one of the top Best Value Colleges and Universities in Maryland. The company’s rankings formula includes tuition and living expenses.
Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is committed to affordability and offers a range of scholarship programs for students in Maryland. With the Maryland Completion Scholarship, eligible Maryland community college graduates can complete their bachelor's degree at UMGC for $12,000 or less, well below the typical cost for in-state students. Since spring 2014, more than 12,500 scholarships have been awarded and some 5,120 recipients have earned a UMGC credential. The Prince George's 3D Scholarship Program was created in 2017 and allows eligible students in Prince George's County to earn a bachelor's degree for a total cost of $10,000 or less. The first student completing her UMGC degree under the program graduated this past May at 19 years old and with no college debt.
The USM’s three regional centers serve students as conveniently and strategically located sites where multiple system universities deliver their most in-demand undergraduate, graduate, professional degree, and certificate programs.
The USM’s three regional centers are USM Southern Maryland (USMSM), the Universities at Shady Grove, and USM-Hagerstown. Each center is a full-service extension of the USM that responds to meet the educational needs of students and workforce needs of employers and that are an affordable alternative to traditional 4-year pathways. The USM regional centers offer degree programs through partner universities that allow students the opportunity to live, work, and study close to home.
The USM comprises 12 institutions: Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; the University of Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and the University of Maryland Global Campus. The USM also includes three regional centers—the Universities at Shady Grove, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland—at which USM universities offer upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses.
USM institutions and programs are among the nation's best in quality and value according to several national rankings. To learn more about the University System of Maryland, visit www.usmd.edu. To learn about the new USM Strategic Plan, “Vision 2030: From Excellence to Preeminence,” visit https://www.usmd.edu/vision2030/.
Contact: Mike Lurie