Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Bills filed to advance debate over Md. community college cost

A state delegate from Baltimore city will take another swing at eliminating tuition costs for many students at Maryland community colleges when lawmakers convene in Annapolis next month.

Democrat Keith E. Haynes has pre-filed a bill in the General Assembly that would provide a full-tuition waiver for students seeking vocational certificates or associate’s degrees within two years of graduating high school or getting a GED, as well as provide a 50 percent tuition discount for those without diplomas or GEDs.

Haynes filed the same bill last session but it stalled in committee, and legislative analysts predicted it would cost at least $32.6 million in its first year. But Haynes said he wants discussion of the matter continue.

“Tuition and the cost of higher education is a paramount issue, not only in the state of Maryland but nationally,” Haynes said. “How do we make college more affordable and how do we make it more accessible?”

The Maryland Association of Community Colleges submitted a letter supporting the goal of last session’s bill but has expressed concern about institutions being having to swallow the cost of additional tuition waivers. Community colleges are already paying about $10 million in waivers for some groups such as students with disabilities and students in foster care.

Discussions about the cost of last session’s bill prompted Haynes to pre-file another bill, this one calling for a 100 percent state income tax credit for community college tuition payments. The credit would not be automatic, meaning Marylanders would need to be sure to claim it on their annual returns, he said.

Haynes doesn’t yet know how much the plan would cost, but said it was important to spark more discussion about making college affordable.

“It will have an impact on revenues coming in to the state,” Haynes said. “[But] we have to figure out how to do this.”