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The Garrett College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to roll back the tuition rate charged county residents, reducing the rate to $99 per-credit-hour for the 2020-21 academic year.

The 9 percent rate rollback – from the current $109 per-credit-hour – was proposed and approved to address both student access and student debt concerns, according to Board of Trustees Chair Don Morin.

“The Board wanted to do everything in its power to ensure cost was not a barrier to enrollment for county residents,” said Morin, who indicated the Board’s action was aimed at students who aren’t eligible for the Garrett County Scholarship Program.

GC’s combined tuition and fee rate will drop 4.7 percent, from $149 to $142 per-credit-hour for in-county students – the lowest rate since the 2016-17 academic year.  Only Wor-Wic Community College ($139) and state-supported Baltimore City Community College ($140) had lower in-county combined tuition and fee rates for the current academic year, with the statewide average currently at $156 per-credit hour.

“I appreciate the Board’s ongoing goal to ensure cost isn’t a barrier to Garrett County residents seeking postsecondary education,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College’s president.  “The Garrett County Scholarship Program does a great job supporting recent high school graduates, Dual Enrollment students, and residents seeking workforce certifications.  The Board’s action is meant to provide a helping hand to students who don’t meet GCSP eligibility.”

GC Director of Financial Aid Andrew Harvey said the board’s action supports the educational goals of students who have the least available financial resources.

“By taking this unprecedented action to reduce tuition, Garrett puts itself on the cutting edge of higher education,” said Harvey.  “This will allow the federal Pell Grant funds to go so much further for our needy students. By increasing affordability, we are increasing accessibility.”

The $99-per-credit-hour in-county tuition rate is lower than the in-county rates charged this year by all Maryland community colleges.  Dr. Midcap said that’s a “dramatic illustration of Garrett College’s commitment to limiting the debt students assume in pursuit of higher education.”

Tierra Jones, the president of Garrett College’s Student Government Association, agreed.

“I believe this will positively impact all of our students, both present and prospective,” said Jones, alluding to the long-term benefits this change in the in-county tuition rate can have on the out-of-county and out-of-state tuition rates.

The state-mandated formula that determines out-of-county and out-of-state rates lags two years behind in-county rates and takes into account other factors.  Harvey said one of the long-term benefits of the reduced in-county tuition rates will be more competitive out-of-county and out-of-state tuition rates.