By: Todd Evans – Copy Editor
Over 30 students and faculty gathered in the library auditorium last Thursday to inquire and air their concerns about a possible increase of tuition and fees at the university.
The annual tuition hearing offers the William Paterson community a chance to voice their opinions amid tuition deliberations. Attendance included President Kathleen Waldron, Board of Trustees members Linda Niro, Lourdes Cortez, and Kevin Lenahan, and other senior administrators.
“We have kept tuition and fee increases modest over the last five years; generally below 2 percent and we are committed to keeping college costs as affordable as possible,” Niro said. “The board and the administration take personal finance matters very seriously. We understand the financial pressures on students and their families.”
Undergraduate tuition and fees have increased by $880 for in-state students and by $1,372 for out-of-state students since 2012 . This translates to a 1.7 percent increase for all undergraduates over five years according to university statistics.
Niro also noted that two thirds of William Paterson’s operating costs are paid through tuition and fees.
History professor Dr. Terence Finnegan said he found that WPU has increased tuition and fees every fiscal year dating back to 1992.
“Not one time in an entire generation has the board of trustees at this university not raised tuition and fees in one academic year to another,” Finnegan said.
“So my suggestion to the board this year is to say no. We have the courage for one time in a generation… we’re going to say to these poor students we’re not going to raise their tuition and fees.”
The administration said tuition has escalated because the state government has decreased funding for public universities and colleges.
“Twenty-five years ago the state funded 70 percent of the cost of education to now about 30 percent,” explained Vice President for Administration and Finance Stephen Bolyai. “So that is the biggest piece, that the state has reduced its obligation to higher education.”
Sophomore Andrew Massefski raised his concerns about how increased tuition and fees could drive away potential students to other local area colleges and universities.
“One of my friends is transferring from a county school. He is looking to transfer somewhere close by and is looking between Montclair State and William Paterson,” Massefski said. “And I told him, ‘You should come to William Paterson it’s got the cheapest tuition around.’ He replied, ‘No, Montclair State has the lowest tuition and that is why I’m going to go there.’”
For students who work full-time while attending school, an increase in tuition and additional fees could result in having to work more hours in order to afford their education.
“It’s pretty hard to pay for college as it is right now and a tuition hike for any amount is going to be even harder because even with financial aid and everything like that you still have other expenses,” said Johnny Arango, an environmental stability major.
The university’s current budget is $226 million with major budget groups being 70 percent for salaries of full and part-time employees and 17 percent for building maintenance, explained Bolyai.