Rutgers Board Approves Tuition Increase Unanimously

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Students at Rutgers can now expect to pay an average of $300 more for the 2014-2015 academic year.

At the Board of Governors meeting yesterday, July 16, the Board unanimously passed the 2.2% tuition increase, along with a 1% increase in the cost of housing and meal plans.

Last year, the average tuition among the New Brunswick undergraduate schools was $13,499, excluding room & board, which drive the total price of attendance up to $25,077. 

With the 2.2% increase, students would pay about an extra $314.  Room & board, which last year cost students an average $11,578, will increase by a further 2.2%, or about $255. 

In addition to voting on increase to student fees, tuition, and room & board, the Board of Governors also passed the University's $3.7 billion operating budget for the coming year. 

According to a press release by Rutgers University's Media Relations department, the overall increase will mean on-campus students who hail from NJ must pay approximately 1.9% more to attend school next year.

The increases come amidst an array of pricey endeavors by the University, including switching from the American Athletic Conference to the Big 10.

The UMDNJ-Rutgers merger, which led to the creation of the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences unit, also brought the University $503 million in additional debt.

Rutgers has also been undergoing a $650 million worth of renovations on all three of its campuses, including many projects on the New Brunswick-Piscataway campus.

As a result of these factors, the University saw a downgrade in several of its credit ratings last year.  Moody's Investor Service dropped the school from Aa3 to Aa2, and Fitch's Standard & Poor (S&P) rating went down to AA-minus.

Tuition rose by 3.3% last year. 

In April of this year, students attended the Board of Governors public tuition hearing at the Rutgers Student Center, voicing their concerns about tuition increase and demanding a freeze.

Several attendees spoke to the Board, providing testimony and personal experiences on how they were impacted by tuition increases. 

The students have been calling for a tuition freeze  and even gained support from state officials, with New Jersey Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union) calling for the 15-member Rutgers Board of Governors to approve no increase. 

In March of this year, Assembyman Cryan, along with Assemblywoman Celeste Riley, proposed a 20-bill legislative package aimed at higher education reform.

Among the package was bill A2807, which would have prohibted four year public and independent institutions from increasing tuition for the next nine consecutive semesters.

Commenting on the 2.2% increase approved yesterday, Cryan said, "Unfortunately, Rutgers, like almost every other college in America, continues to raise their tuition, not lower it."