- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) Tuition increases and hiring freezes are in store at community colleges across Maryland with the dimming prospects of increased state aid in the coming year.
The state's 15 two-year schools had been expecting $174.9 million in state operating aid in the upcoming budget. But in the face of an unexpected deficit, Gov. Parris N. Glendening is proposing $159.5 million, or 8.6 percent less. The governor also has proposed cutting $5 million slated for capital spending, and legislative budget analysts suggested dropping the colleges' original request for $42.8 million to $7.9 million.
"It feels like we were just totally ignored," said Kay Bienen, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.
The shortfall comes as record numbers of students flock to community colleges to improve their chances of finding employment in a slow job market.
"It just comes at the wrong time for us the time of our greatest growth. If four-year schools cap enrollments, even more students will want to come here," said Mary Ellen Duncan, president of Howard Community College in Columbia.
The result will be higher tuition, postponed construction, and cuts in personnel and travel.
The biggest operating reduction would be in Baltimore County, where three colleges could receive $3.7 million less than expected.
Carroll County may have to delay the start of a nursing-education program if it cannot build a much-anticipated building.
Anne Arundel County faces a potential $2 million reduction in operating funds and $9 million less in state funding that would help pay for a new classroom building.
Harford Community College raised tuition $5 a credit last fall. President Claudia E. Chiesi said her board is "waiting for all the dust to settle" before deciding on additional moves.
Howard Community College in Columbia and Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, which serves five Eastern Shore counties, are planning similar increases next year.


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