By Shanna O’Mara
As students crack open their new textbooks, they also open their wallets again to cover the cost of their education. Some may have noticed that tuition this year jumped a bit, tipping just over the $40,000 mark for the fall and spring semesters combined.
Compared to 2016-17, the total cost to attend Rider this year increased by 3.63 percent, according to data provided by Drew Aromando, interim vice president of enrollment management. The current total — including undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees, cost of a standard double room and board — amounts to $56,010.
For the 2017-18 school year, tuition at Rider maxed out at $40,570 with a $740 mandatory fee which goes toward student activities and technology expenses.
This increase correlates with inflation, especially as it pertains to institutions of higher education, according to Aromando.
“Affordability continues to be a major driver influencing students’ ability to attend college,” he said. “Rider and most typical higher education institutions balance the need to minimize cost increases while continuing to provide cutting-edge academic resources, experiential opportunities and a host of services to students.”
Some students cite affordability as an issue at Rider and say that the services offered, such as dorm building maintenance, are not enough to justify the cost of attending the university.
“[Rider’s cost] isn’t fair because when you add in room and board, it’s over $56,000,” said Jimmy Freel, junior finance major. “Tuition is still increasing, and they are charging too much based on the condition that the dorm buildings are in.”
Three residence halls — Gee, Hill and Ziegler — have been recently updated, and more renovation projects are on the horizon, according to vice president of facilities and university operations Mike Reca.
The current annual inflation rate in the United States is 1.7 percent, as reported by the U.S. Labor Department on Aug. 11. This statistic, among other elements, is taken into account when determining the cost to attend Rider each year.
“Tuition and fee recommendations are determined collaboratively by senior staff in Finance and Administration, Enrollment Management, Student Affairs and the academic deans,” Aromando said. “The group recognized the key strategic impact of its recommendations and, in making them, has carefully considered affordability and the current economic environment, recent enrollment trends and competitor data.”
Monmouth University, another private school in New Jersey, has reported similar numbers this year.
Monmouth University’s current undergraduate tuition is $18,016 for a semester during which a student completes 12 to 18 credits, according to the school’s website. There is also an added $350 comprehensive fee.
Monmouth’s website states that the comprehensive fee comprises services provided by the student center, student activities, health center, intercollegiate and intramural athletics, placement, counseling and registration.
Rider students who choose to take more than six courses per semester will pay $650 per credit, which averages $2,000 per class, while each additional credit at Monmouth costs a whopping $1,043.
Double rooms’ cost varies from $3,841 to $5,007, depending on the chosen building at Monmouth. On the Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses, a standard double room costs $4,820 per semester.
According to Aromando’s data, Rider’s total cost increases by about 4 percent each year.
To help combat the rising cost of a college education, Rider offers financial aid opportunities and scholarships.
“Ninety-nine percent of students are receiving scholarships and gift aid from Rider,” according to the university’s website. The “average financial aid package at Rider from all sources” amounts to $34,500.
Between 2008 and 2017, “institutional gift aid support for our students has increased by 106 percent from $37.3 million to $76.9 million,” Aromando said.
Students with questions or concerns about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or affordability at Rider may go to One Stop Services, located on the top floor of the Bart Luedeke Center.