Rutgers Increases Tuition 8%, as Much as State Will Allow

New York Times
July 13, 2004

At most of Rutgers's colleges, New Jersey residents who are undergraduates will pay tuition of $6,793, an increase of $503, for 2004-05. Out-of-state undergraduates at most of the colleges will pay $13,828, up $1,024.

The Rutgers board of governors approved the increases yesterday along with average increases of 5.7 percent for university housing and 3.5 percent for meals programs as well as increases in most student fees, university officials said.

The increases will raise the cost for the new academic year to $16,920 for in-state undergraduates who attend Rutgers College, live in a double-occupancy dorm room and enroll in the most expensive weekly meal plan. The total is about $1,000 higher than charges for the last school year. For out-of-state undergraduates with similar room and meal plans, the cost in 2004-05 will be about $24,000, or about $1,500 more than this year.

Total costs vary by a few hundred dollars, principally because of different tuition rates and charges for student fees, at the university's various colleges in New Brunswick and its campuses in Newark and Camden.

The 8 percent tuition increase is the lowest in three years and reflects a continuing campaign by Gov. James E. McGreevey and the Legislature to control student costs at Rutgers and other state colleges.

In the previous two academic years, Rutgers increased its tuition by 9 and 9.9 percent, amid warnings from the McGreevey administration to restrict tuition increases or face audits or loss of state funds.

The state's campaign brought some mild criticism yesterday from the Rutgers president, Richard L. McCormick.

He said he "appreciated'' the Legislature's desire to address rising costs of public higher education. But he added: "I am concerned that annual state-imposed tuition caps may eventually restrict the ability of state colleges and universities to provide high-quality services to our students. By law, the responsibility for tuition setting rests with campus governing boards.'' He said "adequate and predictable'' state financing would allow colleges and universities themselves to hold tuition increases to "modest levels.''

After cutting state aid to Rutgers for the last three years, the Legislature in the budget approved in late June increased its basic aid package for Rutgers by $1.3 million, to $315.4 million. It also provided an additional $12.9 million for various programs, including the start of stem cell research, and nearly $10 million to cover half the cost of a new wage contract for Rutgers's faculty.

In a letter on Tuesday to Rutgers faculty, staff and students, Dr. McCormick said he was grateful that the state had reversed its three years of aid cuts.

"We must tell and re-tell our story in Trenton with compelling conviction,'' Dr. McCormick wrote. "We must involve more citizens in advocating for their state university.''