By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record
A coalition at Rutgers is pushing for a rollback of 2.5 percent when the governing board sets tuition and fees next month for the 2016-17 school year.
It’s a quixotic quest to be sure, as even calls for a freeze were unsuccessful in recent years, when increases ranged between 2 and 3 percent.
But the group says it needs to keep the issue of affordability in the forefront as Rutgers continues to expand.
David Hughes, president of the faculty union that is part of the coalition, said keeping costs down for students is “the most pressing priority” for the group. He called on Rutgers to use part of the $74 million surplus it amassed at the end of the last fiscal year for the rollback.
“It’s a very reasonable request,” said Hughes, an anthropology professor. “The board has a chance at its July meeting to make a responsible decision.”
Rutgers tuition and fees now top $14,000 and rank among the highest for any public university in the nation.
The rollback would mean a savings of about $350 for the average student. Advocates say the $27 million total cost of the rollback would be minor for an institution with a nearly $4 billion budget while the few hundred dollars in savings would be a big deal for many students cobbling together part-time jobs and loans to attend Rutgers.
“Last year was really hard,” said Mariah Wood, an undergraduate from West Milford. “I had two jobs and I couldn’t afford to go to the dentist. This year even my parents are taking loans, my mom is going to be paying off a Parent PLUS loan when she’s 70.”