Rutgers has announced a tuition and fee freeze for undergraduate students for the 2020-21 academic year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While tuition and fee increases have been consistently low over the last five years, the Board of Governors committed to a zero percent increase this year so students and families can access an affordable Rutgers education during this unprecedented crisis,” said Mark Angelson, chair of the Board of Governors.

For the last five academic years, Rutgers increased tuition and fees an average of 2.2% – typically below average increases at institutions in neighboring states under normal circumstances. However, the resolution approved at today’s board meeting for the upcoming academic year will keep tuition and mandatory student fees at the 2019-2020 levels.

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Tuition and fees help fund the academic programs and university services, including academic advising, library services, computing services, health services, counseling and financial aid, that allow Rutgers to provide a high-quality education to its students, whether delivered in-person or remotely.

“As we face extraordinary financial challenges, Rutgers will continue to deliver the highest quality academic programs, research and services without passing on additional burdens during these difficult times to our students,” said Rutgers President Robert Barchi.

A typical in-state, full-time arts and sciences undergraduate at Rutgers University-New Brunswick would be billed $15,407 in combined tuition and mandatory student fees. At Rutgers University-Newark, tuition and fees for a typical full-time arts and sciences undergraduate will be $14,826, and, at Rutgers University-Camden, a typical arts and sciences undergraduate’s tuition and fees will be $15,264. Housing and dining rates at all three campus locations will also hold at last year’s levels.

For nearly 80% of Rutgers students, individual student costs are further minimized by federal, state, private or institutional financial aid, including need and merit-based grants and scholarships, loans and more.

The board also approved a $4.5 billion budget for the upcoming academic year – a 2.2 percent reduction from the previous year – to adjust for anticipated significant losses in the next fiscal year through reduced revenues, including tuition and fees.

Compensation costs for university employees account for 66% of the total budget, while the remaining 34% of the total budget is allocated for scholarships and fellowships, debt service and other operating expenses.

The 2020-21 budget reflects reductions from nearly all revenue sources. The tuition and fee freeze, along with expected enrollment impacts, are expected to result in a loss of about $67 million, on top of an estimated reduction of $88 million in state appropriations – which typically account for approximately 10% of the university’s total revenue sources each year.

Scholarship and fellowship expenses are also expected to increase by $14.7 million to provide additional financial aid resources for students.

To address the budget deficit, the university implemented cost-saving measures in April including a hiring freeze, limits on salary increases, pay cuts for senior administrators, the suspension of new capital projects and a review of active projects, and a freeze on discretionary spending related to university operations. 

Several university workers, including many in the dining services who said they have received layoff notices that take effect June 26, addressed the board during Tuesday’s meeting.

Many, like Nancy McCarthy, told the board it was an especially bad time to lose their jobs and health benefits because the state is still in a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dining services has always been here for Rutgers,” she said. “As essential employees, we were here for (hurricanes) Irene and Sandy, when buildings had no power, barbecuing on loading docks, running food to dining hall so Rutgers students, ground workers, facilities, EMTs, security were all able to eat. Every snowstorm, a lot of us slept in dining halls on army cots so that we could be here to open the dining halls in the morning. Dining services has always been here for Rutgers and we need Rutgers to be here for us.”

Chris Hazel, another dining services employee, said he and 80 of his colleagues were informed on May 29 that their jobs would be terminated.

"Many of us like so many working people in New Jersey are living day to day, paycheck to paycheck," he said. "Our families, personal and work-related, are being dismantled by this news."