By Julia Ernst
The University is hiking its tuition cost for next year, raising it nearly $1,500 from last year’s rate to help pay for new and additional expenses, according to administrators.
Next year’s figure will reach $27,140, for full-time student tuition. The total figure rose about 5.8 percent from last year. This year’s average increase among four-year private institutions in New Jersey was six percent according to College Board.
Jamie O’Hara, vice president of Enrollment Management, and Anthony Campbell, dean of students, came to recent Senate meetings on both campuses to explain to students what the cost to attend will look like.
This tuition hike is the greatest since the 2004-2005 school year’s increase, which was 7 percent. The lowest since then was 2005-2006, at a rate of 5 percent, according to Rider News archives.
“We work really, really hard to keep our increases down,” Campbell said. “We understand the cost of tuition. At the same time, we want to make sure you have good faculty, good staff and facilities.”
The total cost of attendance will reach $38,010 after a 5.5 percent increase. This figure includes tuition, room and board and various fees, like the student activities and technology fees. Last year’s cost of attendance rose 5.5 percent as well.
O’Hara said that student financial aid is also on the rise. Nine out of 10 students receive financial assistance from the school, according to O’Hara. Next year’s aid budget is increasing by $3 million to a total $34 million, which includes Rider grants, awards and other scholarships from endowments.
Some Rider students don’t understand what exactly the cost of tuition covers or its reasons for increasing.
“Honestly, I can’t even figure out where tuition is going,” said freshman Katie Higgins. “So why is it increasing?”
O’Hara said 60 percent of the tuition income pays for salary and benefits of faculty and staff. Faculty received a four-percent salary increase this year.
Several changes, effective immediately next year, have been made possible through the increase.
“We are introducing a major in Arts Management and a track in Graphic Design,” O’Hara said, adding that a new lab will be built in the Fine Arts building in summer 2009 for graphic design students.
He explained that the new maximum number of credits students can take without paying extra is 18 versus this year’s 17.
“Starting in the fall, the tuition rate will cover an extra credit,” he said.
Other projects and initiatives the increase in tuition dollars will help pay for include renovations to Wright and Gee residence halls, building projects and parking.
“The interior of Daly’s will be completed by the fall semester,” O’Hara said. “This will add 200 seats. On April 15, we will be breaking ground on the West Village apartments. That will be complete for May 2009.”
West Village residence halls, to be built on the Lawrenceville campus near Maurer Gym and Poyda Hall, will add 152 new beds to campus housing. O’Hara added that when the project is complete, it means an additional 121 parking spaces on campus.
Campbell provided further information on the parking outlook. Parking garages will not be built, because of the expense, but starting this fall, incoming freshmen will be charged a $100 per semester fee to have cars on campus.
Lawrenceville SGA Vice President Brian Pawelko explained to Senate members and students that the increased cost, in part, is not entirely determined by Rider, pointing to the new budget cuts being proposed by New Jersey state government.
“Some of it is out of Rider’s hands,” Pawelko said. “We’re going to have to take a bigger role in going to Trenton and the State House.”
Campbell reminded students that none of the proposed state budget cuts are definite yet.
“Nothing will be final until the governor signs the budget in June,” he said.
Some Rider students see the benefits that a tuition increase could provide.
“I don’t mind the increase because it is a small price to pay for all of the improvements that will be made on campus,” said sophomore Jamie Raspa. “Daly’s and the dorms can always use improvements. Plus, I have a minor in Communication, so I like the idea of a new graphic design lab.”