CSM Gets Real About Student Debt

The College of Southern Maryland is addressing the student debt crisis head-on by communicating information and numbers to all college-bound students through its “Let’s Get Real” campaign. The campaign is intended to educate students and parents on the savings they will realize when students start their academic career at a community college.

“The student loan debt is a national problem–and we have a solution,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried of the affordability of community colleges.

“If students don’t understand the consequences of their financial transactions today by signing on for large student loans, they really can be impacting their future quality of life and ability to own a home, have a family or even buy a car. Their monthly student loan payments can make it impossible to get out on their own after graduating, and that is assuming that they do graduate, because on average 30 percent are not completing their education and are straddled with student debt without credentials. This is not a good scenario.”

Recent reports show that Maryland has the highest average student loan debt in the nation, according to credit monitoring service CreditKarma. U.S. student loan debt is more than $1 trillion, now exceeding consumer debt, with the average student debt at $25,000 nationally, and according to CreditKarma, the June 2012 average student loan balance among borrowers in Maryland is $33,667. The average student debt for CSM students in 2010-11 was $4,958, according to information from the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, said CSM Planning, Institutional Effectiveness and Research Department Analyst Daniel Turner.

“I am a bit biased, but with tuition and fees costing less than $4,000 a year, matriculating at the College of Southern Maryland makes so much sense. Students earning their associate’s degrees at CSM and then transferring to complete their baccalaureate degrees can save an average of $28,000. And, due to our many articulations with our four-year partners, it is a seamless transition. Best of all, when our transfer students receive their baccalaureate degrees from these transfer partners, they receive the same degree as those students who began at that four-year institution but they are graduating either debt-free or with a much more manageable student loan.”

CSM students successfully transferred to 110 different bachelor-degree colleges and universities in 31 states and the District of Columbia last year.

CSM participates in the Maryland Transfer Advantage Program (MTAP) that guarantees University of Maryland admission to qualifying students who complete program requirements. Students may begin studies at CSM and transition to UMD.

In addition, CSM has transfer articulation agreements with Bowie State University, Capitol College, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Excelsior College, George Mason University, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Kaplan University, Morgan State University, Stevenson University, Strayer University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Towson University, Troy University, University of Maryland University College and Virginia State University.

Additionally, programs exist that provide a seamless transition, such as the college’s engineering partnership with the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center (SMHEC), the University of Maryland College Park and the U.S. Navy. Students begin at CSM and in their sophomore year are eligible for cooperative education (Co-Op) summer and holiday break employment with the Navy. Students then transfer to the A. James Clark School of Engineering at UMD, taking the majority of their classes in Southern Maryland at SMHEC and graduating with a diploma from the University of Maryland.

For information on the Maryland Transfer Advantage Program, articulation and transfer program requirements, visit http://www.csmd.edu/Academics/fouryear.html or contact Spence at 301-934-7002 or JamesS@csmd.edu. For information about starting classes at CSM, visit Discover.csmd.edu or call 301-934-7765.