Highlights of the 2011 Session of the Maryland General Assembly and Federal Student Aid Update

State Operating Budget

  • The General Assembly maintained state aid to the independent colleges and universities (Sellinger) and the community colleges (Cade) at the FY 2011 appropriation.
  • The legislature deleted language in the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) that would have allowed the Governor to level fund all mandated funding formulas for a period of three years, but made modest adjustments to the Sellinger and Cade formulas to limit the rate of growth.
  • The BRFA also adjusts Sellinger by excluding aid for students who are “enrolled in programs that are part of an agreement or contract with for-profit educational services entities.” (to eliminate Sellinger for students enrolled in programs offered through the National Labor College and Penn Foster Education Group.)
  • Maryland state colleges and universities received approximately $1.2 billion in state funding, essentially level with the FY 2011 appropriation. 
  • The General Assembly cut $4 million from the Governor’s allowance for the University System of Maryland (USM) and restricted $1 million in state aid for the USM Administrative Office until the Board of Regents studies the concept of combining the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore.  In addition, the General Assembly cut $200,000 from Morgan State University.

State Capital Budget

  • The state capital budget (conference committee has reached consensus) includes $10 million for construction and renovation projects at MICUA members institutions ($3 million for Johns Hopkins; $3 million for MICA; $2.5 million for Washington College; and $1.5 million for Mount St. Mary’s University.)
  • The capital budget also provides more than $130 million for capital construction and renovation projects at public universities and $58 million for community college projects.

Summary of Legislation That Passed

  • The General Assembly considered close to 2,400 bills during the session and MICUA tracked more than 80 bills that impact higher education, auxiliary operations, nonprofit organizations, and private employers. 

Federal Update on Student Aid

The budget deal cut last weekend between the House, Senate, and White House affects student aid for the academic year beginning July 1, 2011 as follows:

  • Pell Grant maximum remains at $5,550
  • The Year-Round Pell is eliminated immediately
  • The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is maintained, but with a cut of $20 million (from $757 million), in addition to an across-the-board cut of 0.2 percent
  • Federal Work Study, and most other non-defense, domestic programs, have an 0.2 percent across-the-board cut
  • The previous decision to eliminate the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) state grants was sustained

Congress moves now to the FY 2012 spending proposal, which appears will be more even more challenging for student aid funding. 

The House budget proposal for 2012 would:

  • Continue to trim Pell Grants including a cut (yet to be determined) to the maximum of at least $550
  • Eliminate the in-school interest subsidy for both graduate and undergraduate student loans
  • Repeal the 2007 expansion of Income-Based Repayment for student loans
  • Make major cuts to the overall pool of money available for Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services (no list of specific programs is available yet)