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Photo by Kristina Soetje.

UMBC impacted by state budget proposals

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has recently announced various items, including education expenses, in the state budget proposal for the fiscal year of 2019, several of which will directly affect UMBC.

Among these changes are several provisions that would impact the University System of Maryland, which includes the 12 public higher education institutions in the state. The budget indicates an intended increase of 2.4% of state funds being provided to the state’s public universities. In turn, the USM will be limiting undergraduate tuition increases to 2% for in-state residents in the expectation of the increased funding for the third year in a row.

In an email by UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous, the university’s own budget for the 2019 fiscal year will reflect this 2% increase in tuition for in-state undergraduate students. In contrast, undergraduate students from outside of Maryland, as well as all graduate students, can expect a tuition increase of 5% compared to the previous fiscal year.

Governor Hogan’s budget will also impact specific construction projects within UMBC, including the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building slated to open by the Fall of 2019. To this end, $62.8 million in state allotments has been allocated for the building’s “construction and capital equipment.”

While these budget increases indicate continued support for higher education at UMBC and in the state at large, the Governor’s bill has also blocked $4 million worth of funding initially designated to increase guideline attainments at the university. UMBC currently ranks the lowest among peer colleges with respect to state funding per student, so additional annual funding had previously been allocated to increase these numbers.

This restriction, which is contingent on enacting legislation repealing the current designated funding, is now being challenged by the university. According to the email by President Hrabowski and Provost Rous, they have been “working with both the Governor and legislators to restore this vital investment in UMBC’s mission.”

Regardless of these restrictions, UMBC and other state universities can still expect increased funding for academic programs in key areas. According to the Government of Maryland’s official Budget Highlights, the USM is collaborating with the state to dedicate $10 million focused around academic initiatives to, “enhance the skills of the state’s workforce in science, engineering, cybersecurity, and other key areas.”

Following the Governor’s proposals, the Maryland General Assembly will now commence deliberations on the budget proposals and possibly suggest motions to change its appropriations. Once the final version of the bill is approved, its provisions will take effect for the fiscal year which runs from July 1st to June 30th each year.