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The College of Southern Maryland increased tuition 1.8 percent, an increase college President Brad Gottfried called modest and allows the college to do what it needs to do in terms of education without affecting students too much.

Students living in Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties can expect to pay an additional $2 per credit.

The fiscal 2015 budget of $63,351,753 reflects a 2 percent increase from last year.

Tuition for Maryland residents outside the region will increase by $3 per credit, and out-of-state residents will see an increase of $4 per credit. The student fees remain at 23 percent of tuition.

A typical full-time student residing in the area can expect to pay $115 per credit, in addition to a $26 student fee.

CSM’s budget is supported by funding from the state, the three counties of Southern Maryland and tuition and fees.

The budget is based on anticipated funding to be provided at the state and county levels, according to a press release from the college. Of the total revenues, tuition and fees constitute 48 percent, county appropriations 28 percent and state funding 21 percent. Three percent comes from other sources.

Gottfried said every year CSM staff begin building a budget with no tuition increase. Once the school determines how much it will receive from the state and after working with each county, staff begin to crunch numbers to see how to keep a tuition increase as modest as possible.

He said the combination of a 9.1 percent increase, $1.8 million, in state funds combined with funding support from Charles and St. Mary’s counties and flat funding from Calvert County helped keep the tuition increase low.

Gottfried said budgeting becomes a balance of what the college needs to move forward but at the same time “not put it on the backs of students.”

He said in the budget there are new initiatives, but “nothing excessive,” and modest growth in services.

The college has added an additional enrollment counselor to help with enrollment services. Currently each county has at least one enrollment counselor, and the added counselor will be a regional position.

Gottfried said enrollment has been soft, and the added position could help with a more rigorous approach to increasing enrollment.

With help from St. Mary’s commissioners, the Leonardtown campus will have an additional custodial staff position.

St. Mary’s County also helped fund other post-employment benefits for the Leonardtown campus.

Currently, the La PLata campus has a math lab available to students seeking math assistance. The new budget includes a math lab at the Leonardtown and Prince Frederick campuses.

The budget also includes enhancements to the college’s nursing program, driver’s education program, new initiatives for the cybersecurity program, a new academic program for robotics in Leonardtown and funds for the Community Education Building at the La Plata campus that is scheduled to open this fall.

Gottfried said he feels confident with the $2 increase that the college was able to move forward with initiatives and services to help students in Southern Maryland achieve their goals.

The college aims to keep costs down so students are more likely to graduate without student debt.

The 1.8 percent increase, compared to a 3 percent increase at the University of Maryland, further distances CSM from higher-costing four-year colleges, Gottfried said.

“We are a great place to begin a college education,” he said.

The estimated cost of tuition and mandatory fees at the University of Maryland for 2014-15 is $9,576. A typical full-time student at CSM would pay about $3,394.

Even with a moderate increase, Gottfried said he understands students might still have financial difficulties, and there are opportunities for students to receive financial assistance.

CSM’s tuition and fees may be paid during a four-month period through CSM’s tuition payment plan, which is available to students enrolled with six or more credits, according to information from the colleges. The cost is a $50 per-semester nonrefundable enrollment fee. Because the plan is not a loan program, there is no debt, no credit search and no interest or finance charge assessed on the unpaid balance.

CSM also offers an online program that helps students easily identify and apply for potential scholarships. The CSM Scholarship Finder is a free service that helps Southern Maryland students match their backgrounds and financial needs to dozens of local scholarships in a variety of academic programs.

“No one should be denied an education,” Gottfried said.

gphillips@somdnews.com