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Extra Credit: Should State Schools Give Free Rides to Non-State Residents?

Dear Extra Credit:

As the father of a recent graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland, I can attest to the charm of the St. Mary's campus and the nurturing educational environment. But as someone who has paid $80,000 in tuition, room and board to St. Mary's and pays about $20,000 yearly in state income taxes, I want to know why St. Mary's President Jane Margaret "Maggie" O'Brien ["St. Mary's Builds New Path to College," Metro, March 9] is giving free educations to non-Maryland residents: the D.C. students from Cardozo High whom you wrote about. However worthy the cause, those spots at St. Mary's should go to graduates of Maryland high schools. It would not take an intensive search to find a similar number of worthy students in any Maryland county.

Matt Sikowitz


Here is how Wesley P. Jordan, St. Mary's dean of admissions and financial aid, explained it: "When the news broke in 2000 that the promise of a scholarship to some Cardozo High School students was unfulfilled, St. Mary's led several local colleges and universities to help students find suitable colleges and complete their financial aid applications. Eventually, four Cardozo students that year chose to come to St. Mary's. It is incorrect that these students received a "free ride." Their aid came from a variety of sources, including personal student loans. As D.C. residents, they qualified for $13,000 in District aid. St. Mary's provided an average of $7,000 in aid, largely from private donations made following the news story. Our average need-based grant to eligible students exceeds $4,000.

"I agree with Sikowitz that, as a public college, we serve Maryland residents. Using the knowledge gained from working with the Cardozo students, all of whom were the first person from their family to earn a college degree, we have established partnerships with several educational organizations in Maryland that promote college awareness and access among first-generation college students in public high schools. For example, since 2003, our partnership with the CollegeBound Foundation in Baltimore has brought 72 students to campus, of whom 75 percent have graduated or are in progress toward their degree. A similar program is in place in Prince George's County."

--Jay Mathews

Please send your questions, along with your name, e-mail or postal address and telephone number, to Extra Credit, The Washington Post, 526 King St., Suite 515, Alexandria, Va. 22314. Or e-mail

By Washington Post Editors  | April 16, 2009; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Extra Credit  | Tags:  State Schools  
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Matt Sikowitz is the same man (presumably) who will later be complaining about welfare and the fact that DC residents have no job skills. The only way to break the cycle of poverty is for brave educators to offer opportunity to less fortunate student. What St. Mary's sees, and Sikowitz doesn't, is the long term. Such short term thinking - this is OUR money - forget the others, will only continue the problems we now face.

Posted by: BrentwoodGuy | April 17, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

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