At the board of trustees meeting today, a handful of students voiced concerns of burdens and stresses that come with the raise of tuition.
Junior international justice studies major Heather Francis was the first student to talk about affordable and accessible education at the annual tuition hearing.
“Reading the priorities for the 2018-19 year changes to our community… I feel fearful for a rise in our tuition because I know that even if it is a small increase, an increase over a decade will make a huge impact in the future,” Francis said.
Francis said it’s especially unfair to students already taking out loans and have no other means to fund their education.
Francis mentioned how one in five students face anxiety and depression, some of which is caused by financial stress. The student also cited a New York University study that shows how tuition increases result in a decrease in ethnic and racial diversity in the student body.
Law and government masters student Karen Cardell spoke about how public education is crucial to sustaining democracy.
Cardell said public education is the “gateway to our middle class” because it allows people to access education, connections, ideas and employment. She said that there is a lack of “transparency” and a lot of “division” within the university and administration that hurt the Montclair State University community.
“We complain that the state’s not funding us, we complain that it’s a problem with finances, but it’s also a problem with management,” Cardell said.
Montclair State is the third lowest in undergrad in-state tuition at $12,455 this past academic year. The tuition rate for next school year will be decided at a July meeting, after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signs a higher education budget plan in June.
“Just because our tuition is lower than other schools in New Jersey, doesn’t mean we don’t have students here at Montclair State who are still struggling to get by,” Francis said.
University President Susan Cole said that she and board members have been working to get more state aid, as the aid for four year public universities in New Jersey is lacking.
In past hearings, students and faculty have criticized the low student turnout at the annual tuition hearing being because of the lack of advertising from administration.
Cole addressed this and said that they made more of an effort this year to inform students of the hearing, including sending several widespread emails which in total had 26,000 views and a full-page ad in The Montclarion.
Students can also email their opinions and concerns to the Board of Trustees if they were unable to make the meeting.
“I think it’s important for students to voice their concern about everything because we pay for education and we have a basic right to education,” Cardell said.
President of the Montclair State University Federation of Teachers and professor Richard Wolfson asked faculty to consider the lack of student attendance to be because they feel like they have no power to change the administration’s decisions on tuition.
Toward the end, Board of Trustees student representative Hasani Council said students should be fighting by Cole’s and other board members’ sides to receive better state aid.
“I’m challenging all of us as students to take on more of an active role in fighting for what we want,” Council said.