“The days of a 5 to 6 percent tuition increase every year are likely over,” said the president of William Paterson University.
Kathleen Waldron made her remarks last month in an interview on “NJ Today,” the evening news program for NJTV.
“I don’t think we should do that anymore and I don’t think that people can afford that anymore,” she said.
Tuition increases have been kept at a minimum over the past three years and have only increased about 1.9 percent each year at WPU because university administrators are mindful of the financial difficulties students have paying for a college education, she said.
“Students at the university on average pay $4,000 per year for their education,” she said on the program, many use federal or state aid or scholarships. But even with financial help, she acknowledges, it’s hard for students to afford the university. She said WPU students graduate with about $27,000 in debt, which she thinks is a real burden for young adults.
The university determines the annual tuition increase by looking at the overall revenue of the institution and estimating the expenses for the upcoming year, Waldron said. Then it considers potential salary increases for faculty and staff and rising costs for equipment, supplies and other necessities. This year, despite the decreased cost of fuel, the extremely cold conditions during the winter still managed to offset some savings.
A hearing open to students is held every year to discuss tuition and fees for the upcoming year. The Tuition Hearing this year will be held on Thursday April 16, from noon to 1:30 in the Cheng Library auditorium.
During the television interview, which premiered March 25, Waldron announced that the university had received a $1 million gift from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation to establish the Henry Taub Scholars Program. It will provide $250,000 a year for four years and cover the cost of tuition and fees for students with financial need. This will help to support up to 50 students, beginning with incoming full-time freshmen in fall 2015, she said.
The Taub Foundation representatives met with the president and Pam Ferguson, vice president of Institutional Advancement, last summer and discussed different ideas that would help support the university. The foundation was encouraged to give a gift that would directly benefit students. Waldron is optimistic that other foundations and alumni will make similar decisions in the future.
“This is truly a transformative gift for our students, many of whom require financial assistance and rely on state and federal support, loans, savings and full or part-time jobs to pay for their education,” the president said in a campus-wide email.
During the interview Waldron said the increase of college tuition costs across the country over the years could be attributed to reduced state support. However, she believes this is changing.
“I think in the state of New Jersey in particular we took a really big step in November 2012 when we issued our first general obligation bond for financing facilities at universities in the state,” she said. “It was the first time we had done that since 1988; it was a $750 million facility. New Jersey was one of only four states that was not contributing to building facilities at its college campuses.”
The president said that when she went to college at a public school in New York, the state paid approximately 80 percent of the cost of her education, leaving her to pay for 20 percent of it. Now most states are paying about 30 or 40 percent and the students must pay the remaining percentage.
See the video of President Waldron here: