GOP delegates fight in-state tuition rates for non-resident volunteers

By Daniel Menefee
For Maryland Reporter

A bill that would give in-state tuition rates to AmeriCorp volunteers who’ve served all their hours in Maryland passed the House of Delegates, 86-50, on Thursday in a party-line vote.

Republicans objected that residents could be bumped from admission to Maryland colleges to give in-state slots to non-residents.

Del. Herb McMillan, R-Anne Arundel, said the ratio of in-state to out-of-state students doesn’t change under the bill so the availability of in-state slots would become more limited and force colleges to choose between an AmeriCorp worker or a legal resident.

“If you let an AmeriCorp student become an in-state student they can make up the difference with guess what, your kid,” McMillan said.

About 1,800 AmeriCorps volunteers in Maryland.

The sponsor of HB224, Del. Brooke Lierman, D-Baltimore, said the state depends on the nearly 1,800 AmeriCorp volunteers in the state each year but that their numbers have declined. She said offering in-state tuition would help keep them in Maryland.

“Nonprofits in every single one of our districts, in every single county, depend on the work that AmeriCorp volunteers do,” she said. “Unfortunately over the past several years, the number of people applying to AmeriCorp has declined. This bill is an effort to help stem that decline and make sure there’s an incentive for participating in AmeriCorp and bring people to Maryland. These are the people we want to keep in Maryland.”

A legislative analysis indicates a revenue loss could occur with each AmeriCorp worker who pays the in-state tuition rate, but that the losses would be minimal.

The analysis also shows a $22,000 difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at College Park.

Del. Pat McDonough R-Baltimore County, said the College Park Campus would see a loss in tuition revenue of over $22 million if 100 non-resident AmeriCorp students were enrolled.

Delegate Mark Fisher, R-Calvert, said he’s received emails from residents opposing the legislation on fears their kids could get bumped by a non-resident.

Del. Matthew Morgan, R-St. Mary’s said the bill amounted to discrimination.

“If you going to allow it for one group it seems like you’re discriminating against another group,” Morgan said.

The bill would waive the 12-month residency requirement for AmeriCorp volunteers whose length of service is normally 10 months. They would be required to obtain residency in the year the in-state tuition was granted.