The Board of Governors of Rutgers approved a $4.6 billion budget for the upcoming academic year that will include a 2.9% tuition and fee increase for undergraduates.

University officials seemed to point to employee raises as a factor for the tuition increase.

It was noted during Tuesday's meeting at Winants Hall and in a statement released after the meeting that compensation costs for university employees account for 65% of the total budget.

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The university this past spring reached agreements with labor unions that provide for a 3% salary increase from unionized faculty and staff members for fiscal year 2020. One of the unions represented some 5,000 faculty members.

"We know tuition increases are difficult for our students and we have worked hard again this year to keep them to a minimum as we face rising expenditures," said Mark Angelson, chair of the Board of Governors. "This increase allows us to maintain our top academic programs and provide access to the highest quality education for all of our students. In fact, for many of our students with the greatest financial needed, the cost of tuition will continue to be zero."

A spokesperson for the school noted that Rutgers' tuition increase is lower than the 2019-20 increases at several institutions in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware, where tuition will rise 3-5%.

In New Jersey, Rutgers' average increase of 2.1% over the past five years is on par with average tuition and fee increases at all public colleges and universities for the same period, according to the university. That average increase is in the sixth highest among the 13 Big Ten schools, training Michigan (3.1%), Maryland (2.9), Iowa (2.8), Nebraska (2.9) and Michigan State (2.4).

According to Rutgers, for the 2019-20 academic year - before any financial aid is applied - a typical in-state full-time Arts and Sciences undergraduate at Rutgers University in New Brunswick would be billed $15,407 in combined tuition and mandatory student fees. That represents a 2.9% increase. For such a student living on campus, total charges including tuition, fees, room and board would increase to $28,482, up 2.9% from last year.

"This budget allows Rutgers to remain among the nation's best public research universities and maintain the quality of our current academic programs, research, resources and services," said Rutgers president Robert Barchi. "At Rutgers, we are striving to meet the significant financial challenges all public colleges and university face nationwide while keeping tuition and fee increases as low as possible for our students."

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