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Rutgers approves tuition hike of 1.85 percent for 2017-2018 academic year

The Rutgers Board of Governors voted to increase the cost of attendance by 1.7 percent during their monthly meeting on July 19. – Photo by Nikhilesh De

Rutgers students will pay an average of $14,638 as their base tuition and fees in the 2017-2018 academic year after the Board of Governors voted to increase tuition and fees by 1.85 percent. Room and board will be increased by 1.5 percent, and the overall cost of attendance will jump by 1.7 percent.

The actual dollar amounts students can expect to pay vary by school and campus.

Rutgers raised tuition costs by 1.7 percent in 2016, and 2.3 percent in 2015, with some of the funds coming from the increase going toward salary increases, according to The Daily Targum. 

University Vice President for Financial Planning and Budgeting Kathy Dettloff said some of the money raised through tuition increases will again go toward faculty salary increases. 

There are 27 unions on campus whose members will receive a mandatory pay raise, she said. Overall, their salaries will jump by an average of 2.5 percent.

The Board of Governors also approved a $4.4 billion University budget for the 2018 fiscal year. The budget was approved earlier in the day, Detloff said.

Rutgers' American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) Vice President David Hughes requested a copy of the resolutions increasing tuition and fees prior to the closed session. He was granted two minutes to provide a public comment at the beginning of the Board’s meeting.

He said he could not address the board because he did not have enough information to do so.

"Students have not shown up this year because they’ve given up, this body is so utterly closed to informed comment … there’s no way that I can give an informed comment on tuition because I haven’t seen the resolution and will not see it in time," he said.

Hughes told The Daily Targum that he had emailed members of the Board of Governors before the meeting requesting the resolutions to ensure his comment could address the substance of the increase, but had not received the drafts.

“Two meetings ago I asked in Newark for it, I emailed (Secretary of the University) Kimberlee Pastva for it, I filed an (Open Public Records Access request) for it, they will not let it go, at all,” he said.

Having a copy of the resolution prior to its being voted on would allow him to more effectively address it, he said.

“We could effectively engage in the deliberation (of the increases) if a week ago we’d gotten the draft resolution, and that is the way the public gives comment in Washington or Trenton or any other capitol,” he said. “This is a completely opaque process designed to appear open to the public but is not. If we’d gotten this a week ago we could have sent it in for financial analysis.”

Having a copy of the proposed tuition increases would help faculty and students find alternatives to simply raising costs for students, he said.

Five years ago Rutgers was planning on raising tuition 5 percent, but revised it to 2.5 percent based on student input, Hughes said. This was under former Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick, upon the recommendation of former Board of Governors Chair Ralph Izzo.

During his initial comments, Hughes requested the Board to set aside funding for Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) students.

Under the new New Jersey state budget, EOF students will see roughly $1.4 million more overall.

“So the EOF money has increased a bit but tuition will increase as well … it’s clear that if they increase tuition at all, the grants won’t keep up,” Hughes said. “You’ve got to look at ... room and board, textbooks, and those are not regulated at all, course fees are not regulated … all this stuff leaves students with a balance to pay.”

University President Robert L. Barchi said there will be a 2 percent increase in the number of TAG Awards this year after the state increases in EOF funding. These increases should lower tuition for students dependent on these programs.

Nikhilesh De is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. He is a School of Arts and Sciences senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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