State support falls back as Rutgers' tuition rises


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Photo by Tian Li |

Students protest at the Rutgers Student Center on April 8 to demand a tuition freeze.


It was not too long ago when hundreds of demonstrators stormed the office of former Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick’s in Old Queens in light of increasing tuition costs.

The April 2011 “Walk into Action,” hosted by New Jersey United Students, did little to stop tuition hikes for the next two years. In 2012, the Board of Governors approved a 2.5 percent increase for tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students, according to another article from The Daily Targum.

In July of 2013, the Board of Governors approved a 2.4 percent increase, bringing the cost of tuition up to $13,499 for in-state full-time undergraduate students.

A 2.1 percent increase to the campus fee for Rutgers-New Brunswick campus has been proposed for undergraduate students. The increase that was propositioned as of April 16, 2014 would charge students an additional $49.25, bringing the campus fee to $2,402.25 from the current $2,353, according to a preliminary requests document.

At this year’s tuition hearing on April 8, Nancy Winterbauer, vice president of University Budgeting, said the state has been facing financial struggles, which affects Rutgers as the University relies on state appropriation for its operations, according to a previous article in The Daily Targum.

According to the 2012-2013 Budget In Brief report, 19.5 percent of money comes through state appropriations and 0.3 percent comes from federal appropriations. About 38.3 percent comes from tuition and fees.

College tuition is on the rise because higher education costs outpace general inflation. State support has declined, and New Jersey does not provide for regular capital funding for its colleges, meaning new construction and capital renewal has to be funded by the University, according to the budget report.

Rutgers University Student Assembly President Kristine Baffo said in an email that she has seen students and administration working to combat declining state aid.

University President Robert L. Barchi advocated in Trenton on behalf of students for greater aid, said Baffo, who was elected last week.

“New Jersey is one of the most expensive states to get a public education,” she said. “Rutgers, as the state University of New Jersey, becomes increasingly inaccessible to students as tuition rises.”

A 2013 Public Policy Practicum from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, titled “Higher Education: Costs, the Workforce and Equality,” shows that Rutgers-New Brunswick is a bargain for New Jersey residents when compared to other states’ largest schools.

The report stated that New Jersey’s institutions are still more expensive than other states.  New Jersey’s support for higher education is about average among competitor states, but there is a downward trend.

Baffo said the problem is both internal and external.

“As the state continues to pay less, students are forced to pick up this tab,” she said. “The timing of the tuition hike almost makes it very difficult to for students and parents to work toward paying the difference caused by the tuition increase.”

Baffo said NJUS is tracking and supporting several bills in the New Jersey legislature, most notably bill A2807, which supports a tuition freeze for nine semesters at four-year schools.

Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-3), a primary sponsor of the bill, could not be reached for comment at press time.  

Greg Trevor, senior director of Media Relations at Rutgers, said in an email statement that Rutgers is working closely with Gov. Chris Christie, legislators and executive branch agencies to increase state support as it does every year.

“The reality, however, is that state finances for nearly 15 years have been constricted across all areas of the state budget,” he said.

Trevor said an example of acquiring more funding for the University is in Rutgers’ success in promoting investment for capital projects.

The proceeds from the Building Our Future Bond Act, a referendum passed in 2012 to fund capital projects at public and research schools in the state, enables Rutgers to undertake construction projects to improve academic spaces in a cost effective way.

Board of Governors Student Representative Joseph Cashin wishes Rutgers would tell students about tuition hikes earlier, rather than in July when it is announced.

Cashin, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said when he discusses tuition with members of the Board of Governors, they seem concerned and genuine. He assumes the tuition will increase regardless, given the lack of opportunity for student input.


Julian Chokkattu

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