8-year low for tuition increase

by Amber Cox

Rider’s tuition is receiving another hike for the next academic year, but this is the lowest increase since 2001.

Full-time tuition costs will be rising by 4.9 percent, about $1,300, to a total of $28,470 for next year. Last year, the increase hit a high of 5.8 percent, which was recorded as the highest increase since the 2004-2005 hike of 7 percent.

Jamie O’Hara, vice president of enrollment management, attended Tuesday’s senate meeting to explain to students details of the increase.

“We made the tuition increase as small as we could,” O’Hara said.

Although the tuition is increasing, the financial aid budget will also get a significant increase of 11 percent, or $3.9 million, over this year.

Rider usually receives about $2 million from the N.J. Aid to Independent Colleges program, but the state’s budget is uncertain this year because of the economic crisis.

“We are encouraged by the current [state] budget proposal,” said Dan Higgins, executive director of university communications. “We will be able to withstand a partial decrease in state appropriation without a further tuition increase, should that happen.”

According to O’Hara, financial aid award packages will not be sent out to students until the spring semester is over and grades are in.

“I’d like to reassure current and prospective students that Rider’s financial aid packages will continue to address the needs of our families during these challenging times,” said Julie Karns, vice president and treasurer of the finance division.

According to Karns, the budget was compiled in hopes of not impacting the “high-quality experience” administrators know students expect.

“We understand difficult economic times,” Dean of Students Anthony Campbell said. “As you can see, we have the lowest tuition increase in many years. Our main goal is to help students afford an education at Rider. We want to make sure students can continue to afford an education at Rider.”

The current economic situation is putting burdens on everyone, although some families are experiencing more hardship than others.

“We are very sensitive to the current economic environment for our students and their families, as well as the need to fund increased costs we face as a university,” Karns said.

The president and vice presidents have agreed to forgo a pay increase for fiscal year 2010, O’Hara said. Everyone is aware of the economic situation and is trying to help.

“We need to know if you or your family is struggling,” O’Hara told students. “We want to know about your issues and how we can help you.”

Enrollment of new students, however, does not seem to be affected.

“We’re seeing a pretty healthy amount of deposits,” O’Hara said. “We’re seeing more than we were this time last year.”

President Barack Obama’s stimulus package is helping.

“The stimulus bill has had very positive impacts on students’ ability to afford a university education,” Karns said. “For example, the bill increases the maximum Pell award by more than $600 for next year. Pell awards to students vary depending on their level of financial need. We view this as a significant plus for our students.”

The maximum grant amount will now be $5,350.

“Another positive impact is that Rider families will continue to benefit from the recently implemented $2,500 tax credit that is available for postsecondary expenses,” Karns said.

The stimulus plan will also include other programs and allocations that will become more defined as details become available. Announcement of these should occur over the next few months.

According to Karns it “may not have a significant direct effect on students” but “any improvement in the economy and jobs picture can only help our regional and campus community.”

Sophomore Kristine Kelly thinks this increase will not have a large effect on the school.

“Because the economy is in such a rough time I think its good that the tuition isn’t increasing at such a high rate,” she said.

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