Urgent Message about the Sellinger Program

February 25, 2010

Dear Friends of Goucher College,

The 2010 session of the Maryland General Assembly is at the halfway point, and I am writing, once again, to ask for your help in protecting the Sellinger Program, which provides state aid to Maryland’s independent colleges and universities – including Goucher.

As you may know, on January 19, Governor O’Malley announced his FY 2011 operating and capital budgets, allocating $30 million for the Sellinger Program which, to provide a little context, was funded at the beginning of FY 2010 at just over $52 million. At the end of the General Assembly session last year, Goucher’s portion of the Sellinger funding, used primarily for need-based financial aid, was $2.26 million. By last fall, it had been reduced to $1.66 million through cuts made by the Board of Public Works (BPW). With the governor’s allocation of $30 million overall for the Sellinger Program in FY 2011, Goucher’s Sellinger funding would drop to just $1.24 million. And these funds would still be vulnerable to additional cuts by the BPW during FY 2011.

The good news is that the General Assembly has the authority to increase the state’s support for the Sellinger Program through the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2010 (BRFA). We have already spent the first half of the 2010 General Assembly session lobbying the legislators in Annapolis, and next week we will bring a group of Goucher students to speak directly with them about the difference Sellinger funds make for the college – and for our students.

I ask you now to help us by contacting your members of the House of Delegates and State Senate as soon as possible (you can find them by visiting the Maryland Independent College and University Association’s web site at www.micua.org, and then click on the banner “Support the Sellinger Program”) to deliver the following urgent message:

Please support the Sellinger Program for Maryland’s independent colleges and universities and oppose the severe cuts to the program proposed in the BRFA. *Also, ask your delegates and senator to speak directly with Senator Edward Kasemeyer and Delegate John Bohanan to express their support for the Sellinger Program.* (Senator Kasemeyer and Delegate Bohanan chair important subcommittees that will act on these budget matters in early March.)

Below are talking points to provide you with important background information and to help you with crafting your message to legislators (a face-to-face visit is always best, but phone calls/e-mails are also effective):

  • We know that the state is facing severe budget deficits and that many state programs have been cut in recent years.
  • While Maryland’s independent colleges understand the need to cut programs during periods of fiscal constraint, they believe that any adjustments should be fair and equitable.
  • In contrast to the cuts sustained by the Sellinger Program and the independent colleges, state aid to Maryland’s public universities is up by 11 percent and to community colleges by 21 percent.
  • State governments play an important role in providing higher education opportunities for their citizens by creating an educated workforce for its businesses and industries, and by advancing knowledge and discovery for future economic growth.
  • The independent institutions offer a broad spectrum of educational opportunities, deliver quality academic programs in all regions of the state, and provide unique academic experiences not available at any public institution in Maryland.
  • While the overall tuition and other costs of an independent college or university are often higher than those of a state college or university, private colleges work hard to meet the financial needs of their admitted students, usually resulting in lower “out of pocket” expenses for many families.
  • Over 80 percent of full-time students at independent institutions in Maryland receive one or more types of financial aid to make their enrollment possible.
  • From the taxpayers’ perspective, Maryland’s independent institutions of higher education are the least expensive and most productive colleges and universities in the state.
  • State taxpayer costs per degree conferred at an independent college are $6,000 compared to $36,000 at a public university.

Again, the General Assembly has the power to restore Sellinger funding through the BRFA. Please contact your elected officials TODAY and ask them to oppose the severe cuts to the Sellinger Program in the BRFA and encourage these legislators to speak directly with Senator Kasemeyer and Delegate Bohanan in the coming days about this critical issue for Goucher College.

For more information about the Sellinger Program, you can visit MICUA’s web site. If you have any questions about the Sellinger funding, please contact Wendy Belzer Litzke in my office at wendy.litzke@goucher.edu. It would also be helpful if you could let Wendy know whom you have contacted so that we can keep track of our outreach efforts.

It is important that Goucher College do its part to help save the Sellinger Program. Thank you for your participation in this effort.


Sanford J. Ungar