“The Student Body will judge you”

NJCU Increases Tuition Again

Photo+courtesy+of+Pixabay.com%2FMediamodifier

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com/Mediamodifier

As other universities in New Jersey such as Rutgers, Rowan, Felician, and Fairleigh Dickinson froze tuition, NJCU raised theirs. The school’s Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition by 3.5 percent on June 29th.

President Sue Henderson said in an email interview that the tuition was raised to “remain in line with our consistent practices and peers in the state.”

The university’s tuition increases each academic year. Last year, tuition increased by 3 percent without notice to the NJCU community. 

Students were able to share their concerns during the online trustees meeting. 

Safa Mostafa, a student majoring in Political Science said during the meeting to the board “Public universities such as Rowan and Rutgers have frozen their tuition as the vast majority of us are struggling financially because of the continuing devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.Since most of the students here at New Jersey City University already have economic struggles it confuses me why an increase to the tuition and room and board is even a conversation TODAY. NJCU is known for being one of the most affordable in the state. Let me remind everyone that you can’t have a university without students. They must be taken into consideration when making decisions such as charging them more for their education and housing. Obviously we know that this decision is going to negatively impact some students.”

Mostafa continues “Has the board considered saving money in ways that will offset the budget loss other than a tuition hike… Has the board considered asking those professors who are eligible to take their sabbatical and reducing their salaries? Have you considered reducing the number of adjunct professors? What about choosing NOT to offer some of the special programs, like the alternative teacher’s program? Have you considered postponing salary increases for the upcoming academic year as a possible way to hold the cost of student tuition?

Mostafa concludes “In this special time as our nation faces some of the most challenging changes since the civil war, changes aimed at making us a better nation, we must make decisions that benefit the new America, not for maintaining the status quo. It is the time to show personal sacrifice as NJCU prepares those of us who will have to face our brave new world, there is no room for a self-serving vote. You may still choose to vote for the tuition increase, but you must know that the student body and history will judge you for your vote here today.”

Each member on the board voted in favor to increase tuition excluding a student trustee.

In an online interview with Thyquel Halley, a student representative of the Board of Trustees, he  said he “understands the need to increase tuition in order to gain more financial resources for the various entities throughout the campus.”

“With this increase of [3.5] percent, I would like to see an increase in the quality of education, life, programming, and services offered to benefit students. I think it would be great if we could identify what offices and services on campus we need to see an increased budget in or just more resources dedicated to them.”

However, Halley abstains from voting on the board. “ As a nonvoting member I abstain from all votes brought to the Board of Trustees. My Associate Trustee is a voting member and gets to cast a vote on behalf of the two of us representing the entire student body…I can assure you that the vote is always in favor for the benefit of the entire student body.”

Halley explains why he abstains, “ The way the Board of Trustees works with Student Representatives is 2 are appointed to the position. One serving a 1 year term whom is the voting member and the other serving a 2 year term who is nonvoting the first year and voting the second year. I am serving a 2 year term and currently I’m in my first year which is nonvoting.”

Halley was then asked why the school didn’t freeze tuition like other universities: “That is a question that we as students have asked the administration but have not received a clear cut answer for yet.”

According to Henderson, NJCU is not the only university in the state to increase tuition. “While some institutions have frozen tuition, not all have.”

In follow up interviews, many students said they disagree with the tuition increase. 

Diana Concepcion, a rising sophomore and a political science major said students will not be able to afford paying more for college. 

“…Many people have lost their jobs, not to mention how many families have suffered after losing their loved ones to the virus. In these stressful and difficult times, students should not have to worry about rising tuition rates because their lives have already been irreversibly impacted by this pandemic. In case of higher tuition rates, the NJCU students will feel more overwhelmed and would have to make some difficult choices: whether that includes transferring to a community college or dropping out all together. Neither of those choices would ultimately benefit NJCU as a university.”

Shouhaybou Mbow, Student Activities Board (SAB) Vice President of Programming, and computer science major said tuition shouldn’t even increase by 1 percent.

“It will affect us negatively especially in this pandemic where everyone has lost their jobs, where everyone is trying to balance life while struggling. It will be good for us students that the increase of the tuition must be at least postponed until next year.”

Matthew Kernodle, a computer science major also said tuition shouldn’t be raised. “…With the rise of coronavirus cases and unemployment, a higher tuition is one of the last things we need. Although many occupations have allowed their employees to work from home, there are still many occupations where it is impossible to work from home. As a result of this, many people have been unable to find work and make money.”

Marcel Jones, an incoming sophomore and Biology Major said she does not understand why NJCU is increasing tuition. “…It’s very likely that incoming/continuing students will have an even harder time financing their college education.”

Giovania Jones, a student majoring in Psychology and minoring in Dance, said there’s no point in the tuition hikes. “I believe that the increase of tuition is not beneficial for our students being that we are experiencing a lot at the moment and many students struggle with paying for tuition as it is… NJCU should follow the decisions of other universities by freezing tuition for their students.”

In response to students who are unable to pay for tuition, Henderson said: “The maximum Pell Grant award will increase to $6345 from $6195 (+$150). Therefore, students who are eligible for full Pell and full TAG will still have enough funding from those two sources alone to cover their full-time in-state tuition and fees (after the 3.5% increase).

The Pell and TAG (Tuition Aid Grant) grants provide students who need financial aid assistance  through college. 

Henderson continues “Additionally, the University has increased its institutional scholarship budget to 11.5M to assist students.”