News Community College State Funding Cuts Must Be Restored - Garrett College
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Campus News

January 25th, 2024

Community college state funding cuts must be restored

GC – one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the state – would be cut 21%

By Dr. Richard Midcap, President, Garrett College, McHenry, MD

garrett college

Garrett College, McHenry, MD

Garrett College’s enrollment increased 20 percent in fall 2023.

The initial version of the upcoming state budget includes a 21 percent reduction in state operating funding for Garrett College.

That math simply doesn’t add up – especially with Maryland’s four-year public colleges and universities scheduled to receive a state budget increase of almost 4 percent.

Overall, Governor Moore’s budget proposal would reduce state community college operating funding by 5 percent. That 5 percent cut, however, plays out differently for the various community colleges when the cuts are applied through a rather complicated community college funding formula.

And those circumstances create the biggest irony of the proposed reductions. Four of the most rural – and least prosperous – jurisdictions in the state end up as the only four community colleges that would absorb double-digit percentage cuts to their state aid.

While Garrett College would be the most adversely affected community college by this budget decision, this action would create challenges across the entire community college sector.

Maryland’s 16 community colleges – all battling back from COVID-era enrollment declines – increased their combined credit enrollment by 8.3 percent in fall 2023. The community college sector annually enrolls the highest number of credit and continuing education students in the state – over 330,000 in 2023 – and is responsible for the majority of credentialed workforce training in Maryland.

Community colleges serve the largest share of first-generation, financially challenged students in the state – and we do it as economically as possible. Garrett College is a perfect example. Our combined in-county tuition and fee rate for next year ($148 per credit hour) is actually $1 less than it was five years ago.

GC also discounts the tuition rate for High School Dual Enrollment (HSDE) by 50 percent – twice the required state reduction. But the College’s ability to provide a high-value, low-cost education will be severely challenged if this budget reduction isn’t reversed.

The Maryland General Assembly has the authority to restore the reduction in state aid to community colleges. This issue will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee (HB0352) on February 1st and the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee (SB0362) on February 2nd.

Senator Mike McKay, Delegate Jim Hinebaugh, and our county commissioners are all working with Garrett College to advocate at the legislative level for restoration of these budget cuts. I strongly encourage Garrett County residents who support restoration of Garrett College’s state funding to submit written testimony to the above-mentioned committees via the following links and timelines.

Responsible Committee Hearing Date Testimony Window Written testimony instructions link for Committee Review & Consideration
House Appropriations Feb. 1 Jan.30 8a.m.-6p.m.
Senate Budget/Taxation Feb. 2 Feb. 1 8a.m.-6p.m.

Dr. Richard Midcap is president of Garrett College.