Governor proposes limit on tuition hikes


After cutting $173 million in appropriations to higher education in his proposed budget, Gov. Chris Christie aims to implement a 4 percent cap on tuition and fees increases for the state's public colleges and universities.

Christie is also considering re-opening union contracts to try to get salary concessions at the colleges and universities, according to NorthJersey.com.

Large tuition increases are unwanted, but in the wake of significant reductions in state appropriations for higher education, an artificial tuition cap is not appropriate either, the University said in a statement.

"In this environment, restraints on tuition revenues can deprive institutions of the funds necessary to invest in academic programs that provide a quality education to our students," according to the statement.

A recent report by Moody's Investors warned that state-mandated limits on tuition could hurt the bond ratings of public colleges and universities, by restricting an institution's ability to offset shortfalls in state support, according to the statement. 

The governor's proposed budget would bring Rutgers' operating aid to about the same funding level as 1994, but the burden of funding higher education has shifted from the state to students and their families since then.

"[In] 1994, state spending, adjusted to present dollars, was $9,665 per full-time Rutgers student. By 2010, state investment had fallen to $5,024 per student," according to the statement.

School of Arts and Sciences first-year student Jhan Garcia said he would prefer if there were no hike at all.

Garcia, who pays out-of-state tuition, said in the current economic climate, finding a co-signer with a steady job and good credit for a private loan can be difficult.

"If you don't have credit, you can't get loans, and being that we're students, we're supposed to be building our credit," he said.

The proposed state budget reduces funding for Tuition Aid Grants and the Educational Opportunity Fund and does not provide funding for incoming freshmen in the NJ STARS scholarship program, according to a March letter from University President Richard L. McCormick.

School of Arts and Sciences junior Anthony Addas said he hopes the $46.6 million cut to the University's state appropriations does not result in fewer classes.

"It feels like they've been cutting back year after year on the programs, and how much more are they going to cut?" Addas said. "When's it going to stop?"

Addas said he would not mind if tuition increased a bit more than 4 percent if the additional revenue allowed the University to save classes.

The State Assembly implemented a 3 percent cap into former Gov. Jon S. Corzine's recommended New Jersey budget bill last year.

Full-time in-state tuition at the University for the 2009 to 2010 school year is $9,546, and full-time out-of-state tuition is $20,456. Fees cost $2,340 and room and board costs $10,376.

This would reduce the amount of funding for Equal Opportunity Fund statewide to $37.6 million from $41.2 million.


Greg Flynn

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