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CSM students pay almost half of the school's operating costs

  • Charles County,St Mary's County,Calvert County
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Leonardtown, MD – Officials from the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) met with the St. Mary’s County Commissioners this past week to give their annual state of the college address, detailing the financial, social and community impact of the college. Giving the address were CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy, board chair Ted Harwod and a student of the school/president of the Leonardtown Campus Student Association, Colin Foster.

Dr. Murphy started the presentation with introductions before getting into some “bragging points” about the school. These included acknowledgments that CSM is in the top 150 community colleges nationwide, as ranked by the Aspen Institute, that “65 percent of all Southern Maryland high school graduates who are going to college chose CSM,” that 63 percent of students attend part-time while working 10 or more hours a week, and that the average age of a CSM student is 25. “The College of Southern Maryland is pretty darn good, and we do a lot of really good work,” Murphy proclaimed .

The college has over 23,000 students, making it the largest post-secondary institution in Southern Maryland. A majority of those students (44 percent) come from Charles County, with St. Mary’s (31 percent), and Calvert (25 percent) following behind.

One of the concerns that the college brought to the county commissioners dealt with how the school is being funded currently. According to the Cade Formula---a funding formula created to provide Maryland community colleges with predictable support for operations, and to provide students with affordable tuition---CSM should receive a third of its funding from the state, a third from the county, and a third from its tuition and fees.

The “reality” is that CSM students are “paying most of [CSM’s] operating costs.” Currently, CSM students pay almost half at 48 percent of the school’s costs with the county at 29 percent and the state making up the last 22 percent. Dr. Murphy did not harp on this point too long and acknowledged that the county did increase its allocation of funds the previous year, moving CSM up to the third from last community college in the state for county funding.

The college has seen a 36 percent increase in graduations over the past 5 years, but Dr. Murphy pointed out that, though they are happy with the rise, it negatively affects the financial side of things. “We’re seeing a revenue decline, ironically, as a result of that.” Murphy showed the college's efforts to improve the paths for students and work with them so that they don’t amass unneeded credits. “We know no one wants to spend more time in college than what’s necessary so we’re trying to streamline that process.”

As a resource to the community, the college added $303.8 million in income and 5,320 jobs to the local economy in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Dr. Murphy pointed out that the college adds $5.50 for every dollar spent by society (what’s gained in added taxes and taxpayer savings). Proving that CSM is “relieving the pressure on social services,” and that “community colleges are social mobility through education.”

Dr. Murphy finished her presentation by highlighting the school’s strategic plan, consisting of the college’s goal to “improve student progress and completion,” “provide targeted programming to meet regional needs,” and their goal to “function as one regional college.”

CSM began in 1958 as Charles County Junior College before being expanded to St. Mary’s in 1978 and Calvert in 1980. The college did not officially become the College of Southern Maryland until 2000.

Contact Jerold Massie at staffwriter@thebaynet.com.

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