News Release, College of Southern Maryland

More than 140 College of Southern Maryland (CSM) students who requested tuition relief or assistance during the nation’s longest federal government furlough received it, according to information compiled by CSM’s Financial Assistance Office at the end of the shutdown stand-off. In addition, every student who requested support from CSM and who were registered for spring 2019 received help.

“Eight-one students signed up for the deferred payment plan, totaling more than $107,000 in deferred tuition payments and more than $27,000 in grants were provided to students to assist with paying for books and supplies,” said Director of Financial Assistance Chris Zimmermann. “And approximately 10 financial aid application extensions were granted.”

“CSM is all about supporting our students, and there is no better example of meeting our mission than this one of being able to support our students who were impacted by the federal government shutdown, and easing some of the stress they were under as a result of the uncertainties they were facing,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy.

When the news that the government shutdown could extend beyond the first day of classes and tuition payment deadlines,CSM established two assistance opportunitiesto meet the needs of impacted students, both credit and non-credit.

The first was a tuition payment plan with no money down or enrollment fee required and tuition payments coinciding with the reinstatement of the federal government budget and when workers returned to their jobs. The second was an emergency assistance program that provided a one-time grant for students permanently affected by layoffs or not anticipating reimbursement of back pay from the government shutdown. Funding for these grants are made possible through the efforts of the CSM Foundation. As spring semester began,100 students had been already provided support.

Learn more about how CSM student Reanna Robinson was able to stay the course during the furlough in NPR’s story:Colleges Provide Tuition Relief to Furloughed Workers.

CSM’s offer helped Reanna Robinson, 22, of Washington D.C., maintain some balance during “a very stressful time.” Robinson works full-time as a TSA officer at Reagan National Airport, is raising her 1-year-old daughter, and was able to continue to take five college classes on her way to a degree in criminal justice. [Learn more about Robinson in theNPR story about CSM’s efforts:Colleges Provide Tuition Relief to Furloughed Workers.]

CSM student Brittany Pritchett, of Lusby, told theSt. Mary’s Enterprisethat she didn’t think the furlough would last as long as it did and she was glad that CSM put her on a non-pay status until she returns to work.

“I’m very thankful that they had this option,” Pritchett was quoted as saying. “I was weighing things out and calculating, and I was also given a grant that will take care of my books. It was a very quick, self-explanatory thing; I just had to upload my furlough letter. Someone contacted me right away and the grant was given right away.” Pritchett is employed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and is studying business management.

“I can honestly say that psychologically, it relieved me,” said Gregory Hudson, of CSM’s efforts. The 54-year-old disabled military veteran from Waldorf shared withthe Associated Pressthat hisfiancée was furloughed from the Federal Aviation Administration and hewas struggling to find gas money for his commute to campus when he saw a notice offering help on the CSM’s website. Ultimately, he received a $200 grant, which he called a “great blessing” that kept him from dropping out of classes.

This week,Community College Daily’s Ellie Ashford reportedmany of the nearly 6,000 students enrolled at CSM are employed at nearby military bases or federal government offices.

Tens of thousands of federal employeeslive in the Fifth District, which includes the three Southern Maryland counties in CSM’s service area. In addition to the many residents who are employed by the federal government in Washington, D.C., other major employers in the region include the bases in St. Mary’s and Charles counties [Navy Aviation Warfare Center-Aviation Division NAWC/AD, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NSWC/IHEODTD), and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)] and the associated defense contractors.

“We helped students stay the course,” said Murphy, who also serves on the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) board of directors. “This effort and student outreach is a tribute to the dedication of the CSM staff and the generous support of our CSM Foundation.”

“As we’ve said throughout this historic shutdown,” Murphy added, “No student’s education should be interrupted because of a situation that occurred through no fault of their own, and our college stands ready to help our students achieve their academic goals in any way we can.”

The College of Southern Maryland is a regionally accredited community college that provides programs and services with a special focus on local workforce development to maintain and grow a healthy economy and community. CSM serves more than 24,000 credit and continuing education students at its campuses located in Hughesville, La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick, as well as a Higher Education Center shared with University of Maryland University College in Waldorf and a Center for Transportation Training in La Plata. For information about CSM, call 301-934-7765 or visit www.csmd.edu.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...