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Responses to DLS FY12 Operating Budget Analysis

Dr. Wallace D. Loh, President
University of Maryland, College Park
March 2011

Responses to FY12 Operating Budget Analysis

The President should comment on the impact that personnel reductions in the areas that provide student support services have on UMCP's efforts to close its achievement gap.

Academic support and student services are closely linked and include both activities and services that are provided directly to students, such as academic advising and special assistance, and those that indirectly support students (e.g., applications processing, course scheduling). Under the tight budget constraints of the last few years, the University has reduced staffing in indirect support in areas such as enrollment services, while continuing to increase staffing in areas such as Undergraduate Studies. Specifically, FTE positions have been added to support programs to close the achievement gap in the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education (OMSE), in new programs such as Achieving College Excellence (ACE), and in additional academic advising for at-risk students in Letters and Sciences.

Our records indicate that the campus did not experience a decrease in positions that provide student support between FY06 and FY10. The table in Appendix 2 on page 31 shows growth of 87 FTE positions in Academic Support, from 726.9 in FY06 to 813.9 in FY10. Student Support positions increased by 41.3 FTEs, from 281.2 in FY06 to 322.5 in FY10. Although there has been a slight decrease in FTE positions in the last fiscal year, the increase in FTE positions from FY06 to FY11 remains substantial.

The President should comment on the impact of the fee increases on affordability for students.

As stated in the Analysis, UMCP has the lowest mandatory fee rates in the System; for Fall 2011, UMCP fees are 21.2% less than the average of all other USM institutions. Student fees will increase by $166 in FY12 to $1,653, including a $119 increase in technology fees ($100 for library technology improvements and $19 for general technology in the colleges/schools). All fees were reviewed and approved by the University's Student Fee Review Committee.

The modest fee increases for FY12 will have little effect on affordability for resident students. However, they will provide improvements in library technology, giving students greater online access to library holdings and enriching their learning experiences. The library fee increase will also assist in funding the Terrapin Learning Commons, where students and others will have comfortable and inviting spaces to work independently or in groups, and will be aided by a technology-rich environment.

UMCP has contributed in a more meaningful manner to student affordability through its overall control of student costs. As indicated in a previous DLS Analysis (Higher Education Overview, Exhibit 8), from 2008 to 2011, UMCP had the second-lowest rate of overall growth in tuition, fees, and room and board in the System, almost one-third lower than the average of all other USM institutions. UMCP was ranked #5 for "Best Value in Public Colleges" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine in 2011, up from #8 last year.

The President should comment on the overall distribution of institutional aid with a majority of aid going towards merit and mission while the largest number and dollar amount of awards go to those who did not file a FAFSA.

The overall distribution of institutional aid is designed to fulfill two objectives. The first is to promote access and affordability for need-eligible students through the awarding of need-based aid. The second is to recruit the most academically talented students nationwide through the awarding of merit-based aid. So as not to bias the admission process, the awarding of merit aid is "need blind." This means that the Office of Admissions is not aware of a student's need or of whether or not the student has filed a FAFSA form. The primary function of merit aid is to recruit academically stellar students and reduce the "brain drain" of students attending universities outside the State of Maryland. The primary function of need-based aid is to promote retention and graduation rates of need-eligible students.

There are three main sources of need-based student aid: federal, state, and institutional. The aid available from these three sources amounts to about $40 million annually, not including work-study and subsidized need-based loans. Our institutional need-based aid is combined with these three sources to create a well-rounded financial package. This explains why more students receive need-based funding (3,715) as compared to merit-based aid (3,678), yet the overall dollars awarded are higher for merit aid.

Some of the aid in the merit category is awarded to need-eligible students. For example, in FY08, approximately $3 million went to academically talented students who were also need-eligible.

Combining federal and state need-based sources allows us to stretch our limited institutional need-based funding among a broader range of students. Students can receive smaller institutional need-based awards because they are supplemented through other sources.

Our total merit aid, about $25 million, is funded primarily with institutional funds. To successfully attract top students to choose the University of Maryland over other highly prestigious research universities, we are compelled to offer an attractive institutional financial aid package.

Further, if we look at the entire student body, rather than just the students who were awarded institutional aid (as depicted on page 21), the largest percentage of institutional aid is awarded to those students with highest need.

The President should comment on the status of the Strategic Plan and the continuation of major initiatives such as reallocation of resources in light of the recent departure of the Provost.

The University is fully committed to our Strategic Plan, which has been providing the vision and direction that guides our efforts to build a great university. We are committed to resource reallocation, which is occurring continuously in our academic, research, and administrative offices. This effort includes funding major initiatives that have been made since the adoption of the Strategic Plan, many of which are on-going, multi-year commitments (e.g., Honors College, General Education, Maryland Cybersecurity Center). We are enjoying extraordinary success from these initiatives.

I have identified several broad areas that will be University priorities in the years ahead: (1) research, innovation, and entrepreneurship; (2) student success; (3) internationalization; and (4) the 21st century land grant mission. In each area, the University will be developing initiatives and directing institutional resources to the highest priority activities.

The scope of our resource reallocation will be affected by the University's overall budget. We look forward to refining our reallocation plans at the end of the legislative session.

The President should comment on the disparity between UMCP's Strategic Plan in which a goal is to decrease undergraduate enrollment while USM's strategic plan calls for an overall increase in enrollment of 45,000 students by 2020 with UMCP expected to grow undergraduate enrollment by 4,000 students.

The University has developed initial plans for a significant increase in enrollment over a 10-year period to contribute to goals identified by the University of Maryland System. We are committed to maintaining the high standards of excellence described in the Strategic Plan as enrollment changes, providing an outstanding education and an environment that supports high retention and degree completion. Achieving these goals will be a difficult challenge as enrollment is increased. Success will require increases in resources commensurate with enrollment increases, including faculty and staff, teaching and research facilities, infrastructure, expanded housing, other student services, and student financial aid.

Major changes in enrollment will be phased in over time, as resources become available and as we build our faculty, staff, and infrastructure to provide the opportunities and support needed for UMCP students to be successful.