- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — The University System of Maryland has created a task force to examine financial aid policies at its 11 campuses in an effort to make education more affordable for the neediest students.

Chancellor William E. Kirwan has appointed state Treasurer Nancy W. Kopp to lead the 17-member group, formed at a time of rising concerns about affordability. It has until September to submit a report.

After a series of state budget cuts, system officials have increased tuition rates sharply in the past two years. Tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates at the University of Maryland will be $7,410 in the coming academic year, up from the $5,670 price quoted before a midyear increase two years ago.

In fall 2002, Mr. Kirwan announced the creation of a similar task force that focused on tuition policy. That group was asked to take a broad look at potential solutions, including ways to balance tuition increases with more generous financial aid.

Instead, the group made more modest recommendations last year, such as the need to publicize tuition increases years in advance so students can better budget their costs.

Anne Moultrie, associate vice chancellor for communications, said the new task force will build on the previous one, which recommended more study focused on financial aid.

“The system realized that financial aid in and of itself is so important in this question of accessibility and affordability,” she said.

The financial aid task force will consider whether the state should shift more merit-based scholarships reserved for students with the best academic records to grants for students with great financial need.

This year, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. cut funding for new recipients of such merit scholarships and redirected the money to need-based financial aid programs.

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