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The St. Mary’s College of Maryland board of trustees voted unanimously Thursday to freeze tuition increases for Maryland students the next two years.

The state will pay the college an extra $800,000, or the equivalent of a 4 percent tuition increase, on top of other inflationary increases built into the state funding formula for fiscal year 2014, according to legislation approved unanimously by the Maryland General Assembly.

St. Mary’s College is also obligated to keep tuition frozen for the 2014-2015 academic year, when the state will give another increase equivalent to a 4 percent tuition hike.

“This legislation is a tremendous example of the power of collaboration,” Gail Harmon, trustee vice chair, said.

President Joseph Urgo said he looks forward to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signing the legislation. O’Malley will be speaking at the college’s commencement next month.

Trustee Gary Jobson said the board would show its gratitude to the governor during his visit to campus. He said the trustees need to continue to work on a long-term plan to rein in tuition rates.

Urgo praised Del. John Bohanan (D-St. Mary’s) and Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) for introducing the bills on both houses of the legislature, as well as Molly Mahoney, trustee chair.

“Affordability has been a priority during [Mahoney’s] time as chair and this legislation will have a significant impact,” Urgo said.

Tuition for Maryland students is currently $12,245 a year; the freeze will save students about $500 next year and twice that the following year. The tuition freeze only applies to Maryland residents, not out-of-state students.

A government report showed that two years ago tuition and fees at St. Mary’s College were among the highest in the nation for public colleges.

“A lot of students are concerned about rising tuition,” Alex Walls, the student trustee, said, adding that as a graduating senior he would not be able to take advantage of the freeze. He called the two-year freeze “a good first step.”

The trustees in February voted to raise tuition by 4 percent with the hope the legislature would provide extra funding to rescind the hike. Fourteen of 26 trustees called in Thursday morning for a special conference call to vote for the cancel the increase.

jyeatman@somdnews.com