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USM employees to get 2 merit, cost-of-living pay raises

The University System of Maryland, one of the state’s largest employers, will provide two cost-of-living adjustments and two merit-based pay increases for its employees this year, as well as a one-time $1,500 bonus.

Both full-time and part-time employees who are considered “regular status” will be eligible for these pay increases.

Contingent workers hired on six- or 12-month contracts are not eligible for the systemwide increase, according to USM spokesperson Mike Lurie. However, “implementation of pay increases for those contingent employees are in the process of being made (TBD) at the campus level,” he said in an email.

System employees have not received a merit increase since 2016, while the last COLA they received was a 2.0% increase in Jan. 2021 that had been pushed back from the previous July, according to Lurie.

The January COLA will be a 1.0% increase, while the merit increases will average 2.5%. In July, the COLA will be 3.0% and the merit increases will again average 2.5%. Both merit increases will be available to employees with performance reviews of “meets standards” or better.

These raises come following almost two years of financial hardship for the university system. Over the course of the pandemic, the system has experienced enrollment decreases, enacted a tuition freeze, reimbursed students who had to leave student housing, lost revenue from sources like on-campus events and more.

During this time, university presidents, USM Chancellor Jay Perman and some executive staff took voluntary pay cuts. Many of the system’s universities also instituted hiring freezes and used cash reserves to weather the financial blow.

The pay increases come from budget plans announced by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration on Jan. 4, 2022.

“I’m deeply grateful to Gov. Hogan and his administration for recognizing — and rewarding—the vitally important work of our employees,” Perman in a statement. “Over two years of unrelenting challenges, our faculty and staff have worked incredibly hard to keep our communities safe, to keep our students learning, and to keep our campuses running smoothly. I’m in awe of their dedication to the people and missions we serve. Without doubt, they deserve these increases.”

The pay increases follow the university system’s December announcement that it would raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour, following the lead of many other universities nationwide and several major employers in Maryland.

Statewide, $15 per hour is set to become the minimum wage for all businesses with more than 15 employees beginning Jan. 1, 2025, while businesses with 14 or fewer employees are not required to raise their wages to $15 per hour until July 1, 2026.