Over the summer, the Board of Trustees and Student Trustees met to address various topics, one being an increase in tuition. The board and student representatives mutually agreed that a tuition increase was the best option for the upcoming academic year.
According a university press release, tuition and fees for undergraduate students will be raised 2.2% and room and board fees will increase 0.6% for a combined tuition, fee, and room and board increase of 1.4%, the lowest increase in over 20 years.
Summer 2020 tuition and fees will be discounted 12% from the fall and spring semester rates. Rates for most general master and doctoral students will increase by 2.4%.
The University removed several mandatory fees and shifted the associated student costs into tuition. In the new academic year, additional student service fee items will be moved into tuition.
Student trustee, Nikita Williams explained why she made this decision.
“Due to poor state funding, tuition raises are no longer a yes or no question. In 2006, the state’s budget per full-time Montclair student was $3,982. For last year, it was $1,988,” she said.
Williams continued to explain modulations in the university’s budgeting statistics and why they are important.
“General appropriations for public universities has decreased by 20% while enrollment has grown by 22%. When funding decreases, public universities raise their tuition to make up for it,” she said.
Taking underfunding into consideration, Willams felt that an increase was inevitable.
“During that meeting, I thought about the students I know who would be most hurt by this increase. I debated my vote for months, but I ultimately stand by it. I believe that this was the lowest the university could increase tuition without sacrificing the quality of education,” she said.
Williams then went on to defend her position and offer support.
“I consider this year a win. I am always willing to educate students on the factors that go into higher education funding,” she said.
SGA President, Jherel Saunders-Dittimus agreed that the university is underfunded but students are the top priority.
“A goal at Montclair State University is to continue the advancement of resources and opportunities that can be given to the students,” Dittimus said. “As a state school, we are the most significantly underfunded university in New Jersey. However, we are one of the top state schools to where a large percentage of students receive degrees from.”
According to Dittimus, the Student Government Association is aware of the tuition increase. To accomodate, they providing scholarships that undergraduate students can apply for in the upcoming fall semester.
“As a student-run association, we understand and value the importance of using our voice, which is why this upcoming academic year, we encourage all undergraduate students to attend tuition hearing meetings where their opinions will strongly be taken into consideration,” Dittimus said.
For some students, the increase in tuition did not feel justified. Senior English major Emmanuel Class shared his thoughts on the increase.
“It’s unclear if this benefits students when even the room and board fees are being increased, but buildings like Bohn Hall still don’t have air conditioners for student dorms and Calcia Hall hasn’t been renovated to adequate conditions in like 30 years,” he said.
Class expressed concerns about what the university may actually use the increase for.
“It feels more like the university intends to put off new students who will use their financial aid awards to pay off portions of their tuition in favor of a target pool that can pay their balance in full out of pocket,” Class said.
Sophomore and Psychology major Seniha Okdemir had her own concerns about tuition.
“I’m not eligible for financial aid, and the Biology course I registered for is 1,610 dollars. I want to take this and two other courses, but I won’t be able to afford them,” Okdemir said.
Junior and English major Maggie Nasser felt differently about the increase.
“I suppose it’s fair enough. Given how tuition is already several thousands of dollars, a 2.2% increase isn’t really that much of an addition. Montclair State does provide a lot of different services for its students, but a lot of it is superfluous,” Nasser said.
She explained ways in which she would like to see the university use the money.
“If the 2.2% is going towards things like the library or writing center, I can understand it,” Nasser said.
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