Eliza Dumas woke up bright and early the first morning of September to drive five hours for move-in day to kick off her junior year at Montclair State University.
Dumas, a dance education and theater studies major, is from Raynham, Massachusetts, which is about 30 minutes away from Cape Cod. She knew Montclair State, out of all of the local colleges she looked at in high school, was worth the long drive and extra tuition in order to be a part of the highly acclaimed dance and theater program there.
“I decided to come to [Montclair State] because of the location, atmosphere, the architecture and it was the only place I visited that I felt could really feel like a home away from home,” Dumas said. “I met so many friendly people [here].”
Out of the thousands of students that attend Montclair State, out-of-state students make up about 10 percent of the campus population. According to statistics from the 2018 board of trustees tuition hearing, the annual tuition for out-of-state students is $20,567 plus extra fees for room and board. With the additional fees, out-of-state students pay more than double what New Jersey residents do.
Despite the high cost of out-of-state tuition, Montclair State is considered more affordable than other New Jersey state schools, like Rutgers whose out-of-state students pay over $10,000 more per year. The university does give out a handful of scholarships to these students just for coming out of state.
According to Zachary Brower, an admissions recruiter at Montclair State, out of the 10 percent of students who are not New Jersey residents, most of them are from New York. The majority of scholarships given to these students are for those enrolled in BFA arts programs for dance, theater and music. Students receiving this kind of scholarship pay the same tuition as those in state, but they still have to pay for room and board.
“We have very strong programs in the arts at Montclair State,” Brower said. “Students are all automatically considered for scholarships [in the program] as long as they apply by Jan. 15.”
While Dumas is a dance education and theater studies major, she is not currently receiving a scholarship from the university, putting more strain on her college fund. When she was applying for college, her top choices were between in-state Bridgewater State University and out-of-state Montclair State University.
“[Bridgewater State University] is like the Montclair of Massachusetts, except the arts program is mediocre compared to [Montclair State’s],” Dumas said.
She admits that she never applied for a scholarship upon enrolling in Montclair State. Some of the theater and dance programs require multiple phases of auditions before being accepted. What many are confused about is the application process.
According to Brower, there is no application because students are automatically considered for scholarships. After being informed about ways to earn these scholarships, Dumas plans to do more research and see if she is eligible.
Some out-of-state students are not enrolled in the BFA theater and dance program but still receive money from the school. Mario Papa, a Staten Island, New York resident and senior television and digital media major gets $14,000 from the university each year just because he does not live in New Jersey. He first got a letter in the mail from Montclair State with an initial scholarship of $10,000 per year. A few weeks later, he got an additional notice with another $4,000.
“I think [the university] gave me some money because I am out-of-state,” Papa said.
While going to a university that is out of state is financially straining for him, Papa thinks that the programs, experiences and opportunities it has given him is worth the investment.
“If it wasn’t for [the School of Communication and Media], I wouldn’t be here,” Papa said.
Papa also believes that there are a number of students from Staten Island not majoring in the theatrical arts or in the BFA program who are also receiving scholarships from the university.
Brower confirmed that there are other ways for out-of-state students to get scholarships at Montclair State.
“Each program [at the university] is a little different,” Brower said. “Some of them have GPA requirements and other things to do.”
Brower said that last year, the university began offering a $4,000 housing grant to out-of-state students obtaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher and that it will be offered again this year. He urges students who may be eligible to apply as soon as possible before the Jan. 15 deadline approaches.