As the new academic school year begins, students may have noticed some differences in their bills. Over the summer, Montclair State University announced it would raise its prices.
The board of trustees voted to raise tuition and mandatory fees for all undergraduate programs by 1.7%. In-state students now have to pay $227 more than previous years, bringing the total to $13,298.
For out-of-state undergraduate students, tuition and mandatory fee rates increased 1.8%, bringing the total to $21,418. Rates for most master’s and doctoral students, both in and out of state, increased by 3%, and rates for MBA programs increased from 1.9% to 2.9% depending on the chosen program.
Andrew Mees, Montclair State’s media relations director, explained that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was not a factor in the decision.
“The pandemic was not a factor,” Mees said. “In fact, the university took several measures prior to the 2020-2021 academic year to ensure tuition and fees remained flat during the height of the pandemic.”
Though Montclair State’s tuition is the highest it has ever been, Mees said it still places the university as the third, lowest-priced public university in New Jersey.
Mark Carchidi, a senior filmmaking major, said the increase won’t affect him much but believes tuition should not have been raised.
“It’s kind of a ‘kick me while I’m down,’” Carchidi said. “I feel like things are so limited right now because of the pandemic and so many classes are online. [Tuition] should’ve gone down.”
According to Mees, increases were necessary to fund salary and other inflationary costs, among other things. He said this will ultimately allow the university to continue to provide affordable, high-quality education for its students.
Fae Santana, a senior jurisprudence, law and society major, said this increase makes her anxious.
“It might be an issue if I end up having a balance and not being able to graduate,” Santana said. “Especially because I’m having trouble paying for my books right now.”
Santana is no stranger to struggling to pay for tuition, as last year she had to pay $400 out of pocket, which she did not have.
“I ended up having to borrow money,” Santana said. “It added stress to my semester when I’m already a single parent and doing so many other things.”
Montclair State’s tuition was not the only thing that increased. Students who receive New Jersey’s Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) will also see an increase in their award. It is at an all-time high, which the university expects to offset the increase in tuition and mandatory fees. TAG awards come in the form of financial aid support that does not have to be paid back.
Mees also said the university is increasing the aid it provides to undergraduates with its own resources by 40%.
If a student is struggling to pay their tuition and fees, there are a few things they can check out, such as scholarships, grants and a new program called Garden State Guarantee. They can also submit a Request for Review form if there is a change in household income that is not reflected on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before Oct. 1.
Students also have the option to contact the Office of the Dean of Students if they are struggling to afford the cost of attendance.