During a July 10 board meeting, the Rutgers Board of Governors unanimously approved a $5.4 billion budget for the 2023-2024 school year that would raise tuition, mandatory fees and housing rates.
The Board Committee of Finance and Facilities agreed to increase undergraduate tuition and mandatory student fees by 6 percent each, student housing rates and residents' education fees by 5 percent each and dining fees by up to 7 percent, according to William Tambussi, a public governor for the Board.
"For a typical undergraduate (School of) Arts and Sciences student who is a New Jersey resident, this will equate to, on average, $387 for tuition and $100 for mandatory student fees per semester," said the Board's Chief Budget Officer David Moore.
The increase would be Rutgers' largest in-state tuition hike since an 8 percent increase in 2008. Notably, state funding for the University was cut by 10.8 percent that year, according to an article from Rutgers Today.
University Treasurer J. Michael Gower said the budget was affected by the Great Resignation, pandemic-induced inflation as it relates to the cost of living and a decrease in traditional high school graduates and community college enrollments.
Negotiated salary increases and rising costs of employee benefits such as healthcare and pension also contributed to the budget increase, according to Moore. Moore said that student tuition and fees comprise around 27.4 percent of University revenue.
The Daily Targum spoke to several students to learn their perspectives on the newly approved budget and its associated tuition and fee increases.
Charmaine Thomas, a rising senior in the School of Arts and Sciences, said she does not know how the University utilizes tuition money. She cited the University football team's publicized $450,000 Doordash bill between May 2021 and June 2022.
"It didn't feel like the money that we pay in tuition was going toward something that … fully benefits us," Thomas said.
Following April's historic University faculty strike, Thomas said she hopes the tuition increase comes with fair wages.
Akshita Bhatnagar, a rising senior in the School of Arts and Sciences, also spoke about the difficulty of understanding the tuition breakdown. She said she does not appreciate hearing that tuition is rising when neither students nor faculty appear to benefit from it.
"Being able to see that (wages are) equal among all faculty members would help ease the concerns," Bhatnagar said.
She said if University President Jonathan Holloway provided clearer communication regarding faculty affairs and funds allocation, more students might feel at ease with the tuition increases.
On the other hand, Hibah Malik, a rising junior in the School of Arts and Sciences, said there is no justification for a tuition increase.
Like Thomas and Bhatnagar, Malik also said she does not know how University money is spent. She said that her parents' contributions and scholarships currently help cover her tuition, but she expects to pay it entirely on her own by her senior year. The tuition increase will add $1,200 to her bill when she graduates, according to Malik.
Malik said that she expected the increase after the events of the faculty strike, which concluded in a contract that increased pay for adjunct and full-time faculty as well as graduate workers.
"There's always room for whoever is in the higher-up positions to be more generous with how much they give their employees instead of how many cuts they give themselves," Malik said.
She said that if funds were adequately allocated, there would be no need for a tuition increase, and the University could still afford to pay its staff and renovate buildings on campus.
"Maybe because of everything that happened recently, (the University) is like, 'OK, we will give (our faculty) more money, but it's going to come from you instead of coming from us,' which seems very roundabout," she said.