By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
Despite protests and pleas from Rutgers students, the Board of Governors approved a 3.3 percent tuition and fee increase for the 2013-2014 semester. That means students will pay about $427 more.
“This tuition hike will be such a burden on so many students such as myself, impeding on our success in future, being burdened with such financial debt,” said Lindsey Sigmund.
“We were told that the cost of all of the athletic scandals we had this past year would not be reflected in tuition,” said Marios Athanasiou. “It’s not going to the merger’s debt accumulation. What is it going to? Why would we have an increase?”
University officials attribute the increase to rising expenditures, including personnel salaries. Rutgers President Robert Barchi told us he would not raise merger money on the backs of students. And he wants to substantially reduce the subsidy for athletics.
“We reduced it by $1 million between last year and this year. I’d like to see that rate of progression over the next few years,” Barchi said in September.
Rutgers athletic teams still cost the average student about $1,000 a year, the most among schools competing in the top category of college football. That’s according to a 2012 Bloomberg report. Moreover, Rutgers says student fees will go up by 2.4 percent this fall. Out of that, the portion devoted to intercollegiate athletics will increase by 2.1 percent — not decrease, as Rutgers officials promised.
Several of New Jersey’s other public colleges and universities have announced tuition increases, including Montclair State University where the hike will be 2.5 percent, the smallest increase in 20 years.
“The typical state college or university increase is gonna be in the 2 to 3 percent range, but there are some outliers. Some institutions have frozen tuition, which hasn’t happened in decades,” explained Paul Shelly of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities.
And other public colleges and universities in our area — including Temple and the University of Virginia — have called for similar increases.
“New Jersey’s public college tuition is third highest in the nation. That happened slowly over time as the state dis-invested in college and university operations overall,” said Shelly.
To help ease the burden, many students can get financial assistance. The Rutgers board allocated an additional $3 million for student financial aid. But with higher student loan interest rates and student debt on the rise, paying for higher education remains a challenge.