This article was originally published in The Sting on September 2, 2020.
University of Baltimore students can expect to pay the same tuition rate as the 2019 academic year through at least the Spring 2021 semester. The University System of Maryland, which UB is a part of, made the announcement in June that all schools under their umbrella would be freezing tuition for the 2020-21 academic year.
But what exactly does this mean?
“The USM tuition freeze is for the entire academic Year 2020-2021 and impacts the tuition and mandatory fees charged for the Summer and Spring 2020, Winter and Spring 2021 terms/semesters,” said Barbara Aughenbaugh, associate vice president of financial planning and operations for the University System of Maryland. “Additionally, the USM tuition freeze required UB to lower the cost of attendance for all UB students receiving financial aid and repackaging their financial aid awards.”
Aughenbaugh added, “Undergraduate tuition changes, for all USM institutions, are set by the USM Board of Regents (BOR). Individual universities set their graduate and professional program tuition rates.”
However, it’s important to note that tuition freeze and refunds are different.
Tuition refunds occur when the University gives you money back that was previously paid for tuition or fees, such as in the Spring 2020 semester when students received a refund from the University of Baltimore.
Tuition freezes, on the other hand, prevents any University of Maryland system school to raise tuition costs.
“University of Baltimore elected to refund certain student fees in the spring 2020 semester and temporarily reduce fees for the summer and fall 2020 semesters in consideration of certain student services, for example the shuttle bus, not provided in the online environment,” Aughenbaugh added. “The fees UB typically charge are less than most other universities because we do not offer on-campus housing, meal plans, and intercollegiate athletics; as a result, our fee reductions were less than others.”
In a town hall, President Kurt Schmoke informed participants about the university’s plan which included possibly increasing tuition.
“All 12 institutions in the University system had proposed tuition increases. They were modest increases, no more than 2%,” explained Schmoke. “ But late in the spring, actually late June, the board of regents decided not to approve those increases,”
Students may end up looking at a higher tuition rate next fall once the freeze ends.
USM Chancellor Jay Perlman said “By freezing tuition for the upcoming year, we’re trying to ease the financial strain on our students and families, while continuing to offer the highest quality academic experience, an experience that defines our University System institutions.”
SGA President Dan Khoshkepazi agreed, saying, “I think the decision to freeze tuition 100% puts our students in better standing as they would have had to pay more if the tuition was increased.”
Students, in addition to the tuition freeze, have a myriad of resources available to offset financial hardship. These include funding from the CARES Act to offset expenses related to unemployment, tuition, or other educational expenses. Additionally, Federal government has continued to suspend loan payments, stop collections, and waive interest on Education Department-held student loans until December 31, 2020.
Tony Sheaffer is managing editor for The Sting.