Schools are not collection agencies for college tuition

Friday, June 7, 2013

As part of its effort to ensure that at least 55 percent of all Maryland residents ages 25 to 64 hold at least an associate degree by 2025, the General Assembly passed the College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013.

The bill, which is intended to make higher education more accessible to all students, prohibits a public institution of higher education from charging tuition to a student who is also enrolled in a public high school. Instead, the tuition bill is to be paid by the local school system, with a reimbursement provision based in part on the student’s financial situation. Tuition may be waived altogether for students who receive Free And Reduced Meals.

The goal is admirable. The only way to increase the overall number of degrees held and, thereby, improve employment prospects is to help students who cannot afford college get there and succeed.

But somebody has to pay the bill. Public school systems, especially on the Lower Shore, are already strapped for cash. Even a school system on sound financial footing should not have to function as a collection agency.

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