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O’Malley’s budget increases tuition by 3 percent

ANNAPOLIS — Students at Maryland state colleges and universities could face a 3 percent tuition increase as a result of the budget proposal Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Wednesday.

“We put the money in up front, and then that allows them not to have to pass as much of the cost onto in-state students when they set their tuition and their budget for the year,” O’Malley said. “And every year, it’s a bit of a negotiation.”

Initially, the University System of Maryland wanted a 5 percent tuition increase, but through funding from the state, the governor’s office was able to push it down to a 3 percent cap, said O’Malley’s press secretary, Nina Smith.

The University System of Maryland is without complaint.

“The System is very pleased with the governor’s budget,” said Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan. “We know that resources are extremely tight in Annapolis.”

Based on the 2013-2014 school year, tuition at Salisbury University may go up by nearly $200.

“It’s not going to be fun to pay for, but I don’t really have a choice in it, I guess,” said Alia Otwell, 20, a sophomore at Salisbury.

Instead, that $200 could pay for more than 250 packs of ramen noodles, the sterotypical staple of college students’ diets.

Otwell, an Easton native, said she is paying for college through student loans, grants and scholarships. A tuition increase most likely will not make changes to her lifestyle, she said.

“I get a lot of money back as a refund check already, because I get more money than I need for tuition,” Otwell said.

However, Otwell, a double major in early childhood and elementary education, works about 20 hours a week at a coffee shop to earn spending money, which has affected her studies.

“Grades have gone down,” Otwell said. “Probably a letter grade in each class.”

The university has risen in equality and is more affordable because of the governor and the General Assembly, Kirwan said.

Both O’Malley and Kirwan compared the percent increase of tuition to other state schools across the country.

For example, Arizona, adjusting for inflation, has increased its tuition by 80 percent over the last eight years — the highest of all states, O’Malley said.

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