2017-2021 Maryland State Plan for Postsecondary Education

Executive Summary


The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) is pleased to release the 2017-2021 State Plan for Postsecondary Education: Student Success with Less Debt. MHEC is charged with producing a statewide plan every four years that clearly outlines the priorities and major goals for the State’s postsecondary system. The 2017-2021 State Plan for Postsecondary Education: Student Success with Less Debt fulfills this charge.

The 2017-2021 State Plan for Postsecondary Education: Student Success with Less Debt outlines three primary goals for the postsecondary community in Maryland.

Access: Ensure equitable access to affordable and quality postsecondary education for all Maryland residents.

Success: Promote and implement practices and policies that will ensure student success.

Innovation: Foster innovation in all aspects of Maryland higher education to improve access and student success.

Each goal highlights the current challenges higher education in Maryland faces and provides several strategies as opportunities to address those challenges.  Current and innovative initiatives that support student access and success are also discussed.  Recommended “action items” for postsecondary partners are suggested. 

A summary of the goals, strategies, and action items can be found below.  The Commission strongly encourages all segments and partners in postsecondary education to focus on strategies that align with their mission and develop strategic plans accordingly.

The 2017-2021 State Plan for Postsecondary Education: Student Success with Less Debt reflects the work of three workgroups aligned with each goal.  Workgroup membership can be found in the Appendix and reflects participation from all postsecondary partners.  The Commission reviewed this document and approved it as the 2017-2021 Maryland State Plan for Postsecondary Education on December 13, 2017.  MHEC, when appropriate, will convene various stakeholder groups to discuss and implement innovative initiatives that increase student access and success with less debt.  Information about such meetings can be found on the MHEC website.

Secretary James D. Fielder notes “It is through this State Plan for Postsecondary Education in Maryland that we have set the goals of access, success, and innovation to support ‘student success with less debt.’ It is with Governor Hogan’s leadership and the support of the legislature and its presiding officers that we will achieve these goals. The Maryland Higher Education Commission looks forward to working with all vested parties to promote this work over the next four years.”


Summary of Goals, Strategies, and Action Items 

ACCESS: Ensure equitable access to affordable and quality postsecondary education for all Maryland residents.

Strategy 1: Continue to improve college readiness among K-12 students, particularly high school students.

ü  Work with LEAs to evaluate the effectiveness of college readiness assessments.

ü  Develop statewide metrics for college readiness that also consider the longevity of the measure.

ü  Develop transition courses in alignment with remedial or developmental coursework at partnering institutions.

ü  Align academic programs with CTE programs for a smooth transition.

ü  Work with local school systems to improve middle college programs that award degrees.

Strategy 2: Cultivate greater financial literacy for students and families to encourage financial planning and to prepare for postsecondary education.

ü  Expand and empower existing partnerships to improve financial literacy initiatives, programs, and/or curriculums.

ü  Expand financial competencies to go beyond a basic understanding of student loans, grants, and scholarships.

ü  Create and improve relationships with local professional school counselors and college access professionals.

ü  Educate students about the definition of full-time status in the context of financially planning their postsecondary career.

ü  Explore financial aid policies that can improve time to completion.

Strategy 3: Expand efforts to cultivate student readiness, financial literacy, and financial aid for individuals outside traditional K-12 school channels.

ü  Expand partnerships with local services to improve information sharing to prospective students.

ü  Expand outreach to communicate with non-traditional students and offer alternative pathways to access postsecondary education.

ü  Work with GED programs to create a pipeline for students completing their GED.

ü  Develop targeted campaigns and programs to support first-generation students.

ü  Develop initiatives to identify and address obstacles that students face in preventing them from continued enrollment and completion.

ü  Support veterans by ensuring appropriate services are available and accessible, such as counseling and healthcare service providers. 

SUCCESS: Promote and implement practices and policies that will ensure student success.

Strategy 4: Continue to ensure equal educational opportunities for all Marylanders by supporting all postsecondary institutions.

ü  Continue to ensure that all policies and practices reflect the dedication and commitment to equal education opportunities.

ü  Support the unique missions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

ü  Enhance diversity by fostering collaborations between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and traditionally white institutions.

Strategy 5: Ensure that statutes, regulations, policies, and practices that support students and encourage their success are designed to serve the respective needs of both traditional and non-traditional students.

ü  Systematically review policies and practices to ensure they are student-focused and are implemented with the goal of student success.

ü  Review and consider current policies and practices around remediation coursework.

ü  Review and consider current policies and practices around structured schedules and academic planning.

ü  Improve policies regarding academic program review that meet the State’s needs – e.g., workforce shortages, do not duplicate, do not saturate, allow for responsiveness, do not sacrifice student growth and development, and allow for career exploration and goal setting.

ü  Ensure academic policies and campus practices support all students, including non-traditional students.

ü  Review financial aid policies to improve access for all students.

ü  Expand financial aid programs to non-traditional programs like non-credit, non-degree, and distance education.

ü  Expand financial aid opportunities that promote and incentivize on-time completion.

ü  Review State policies on credit minimums for state financial aid in an effort to promote on-time completion.

ü  Coordinate similar efforts with federal partners to improve access to non- traditional students and improve on-time completion.

ü  Establish appropriate guidelines endorsed by the state, federal agencies, and accrediting agencies or associations for the assessment of prior learning and granting of credit.

Strategy 6: Improve the student experience by providing better options and services that are designed to facilitate prompt completion of degree requirements.

ü  Evaluate structural issues and improvements for ARTSYS.

ü  Consider utilizing focused pathways to improve college completion and student success.

Strategy 7: Enhance career advising and planning services and integrate them explicitly into academic advising and planning.

ü  Become informed about employment opportunities in Maryland.

ü  Create pathways of information sharing for students regarding employment, careers, and industries in Maryland.

ü  Find ways to incorporate career advising into academic advising.

ü  Create or expand existing career centers to be an essential element of a student's academic experience.

ü  Increase internship opportunities to improve career planning.

ü  Support local apprenticeship programs by coordinating efforts in required instruction for Registered Apprenticeships.

ü  Support faculty and staff in integrating career advising and internship opportunities.


Foster innovation in all aspects of Maryland higher education to improve access and student success.

Strategy 8: Develop new partnerships between colleges and businesses to support workforce development and improve workforce readiness.

ü  Perform a gap analysis for top industries in Maryland.

ü  Identify and create preferred partnerships in Maryland.

ü  Support business-driven credentials.

ü  Include long-term graduate education opportunities when considering a student’s career trajectory.

Strategy 9: Strengthen and sustain development and collaboration in addressing teaching and learning challenges.

ü  Invest in the science of teaching and learning.

ü  Training in pedagogy should be accessible to all faculty.

ü  Include pedagogy in graduate student training.

ü  Provide ongoing training for best-practices in pedagogy to all faculty.

ü  Support professional development outside the institution in pedagogy.

ü  Utilize open access resources (OERs) to critically develop course materials and lower the cost of additional materials.

Strategy 10: Expand support for research and research partnerships.

ü  Coordinate and share resources to improve scholarship for students and faculty.

ü  Support faculty in developing and commercializing patents.

Strategy 11: Encourage a culture of risk-taking and experimentation.




Without risk, there is no failure;
without failure, there is no learning;
without learning, there is no success.


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