College president R. Barbara Gitenstein said that tuition and fees will increase next year as a result of the recent state budget cuts. The size of this increase, however, is unknown as the cabinet, according to Gitenstein, is currently looking at ways to limit expenditures.
“There will be an increase in tuition,” Gitenstein said. “We just don’t know the size of it, because we want to find out what kind of expenditure cuts we can make without damaging (the student’s) health and safety and the academic core.”
According to Gitenstein, current planned expenditure cuts include consolidating administrative and staff positions, reorganizing cabinet positions and re-delegating responsibilities “across the board” in order to save salary dollars.
In addition to these cuts, the College will postpone the completion of the Student Information System (SIS). SIS is the upgrade in computing software, which would have replaced The Electronic Student Services (TESS).
“We will do it,” Gitenstein said. ‘but we won’t do it this year.”
The College also plans to save money by delaying maintenance projects that are not a threat to campus safety and security.
‘We are also looking at other things to try to cut as much as we can for the operating budget,” College treasurer Barbara Wineberg said. “We are very carefully going through the entire budget to see if there are any programs that are nice to have, but are not necessary.”
“As we move into the next steps, there are just not a lot of good choices,” Gitenstein said. “It is my job to make priority decisions. I won’t cut across the board, the reason being is that that guarantees mediocrity.”
Gitenstein said that she will find a way to provide the scholarship money that has already been promised to the 2003 incoming freshmen class. This money was originally provided by the Outstanding Student Recruitment Program (OSRP), which is no longer state funded.
She also said that the College is expected to make up the discrepancy associated with the Tuition Assistant Grant (TAG) program, which provides grant money for the College’s neediest students.
‘We would have done that anyway,” Gitenstein said.
Gitenstein pointed out that the budget cuts are not exclusive to the College.
“Absolutely understand that this is not happening just to TCNJ,” she said. “This is happening to all higher education institutions in the state. We are not being particularly targeted.”
In early February, Gov. Jim McGreevey proposed a ten percent cut in state aid to all N.J. colleges and universities. Under McGreevey’s proposal, institutions of higher education in the state are expected to lose about $101 million in aid. (See sidebar for a breakdown on how the budget increases specifically affect the College).
“Despite all of this news, I am still committed to advocating for restitution,” Gitenstein said. “Until June 30, I will be arguing for greater investment in higher education.”
Gitenstein said that the College has delayed a lot of its discussions due to the indefinite nature of the cuts on both a statewide and a campus level. Consequently, theBoard of Trustees will hold its yearly tuition hearing in June.
“Usually we hold (the tuition hearing) in April,” Gitenstein said. “We simply cannot do that this year because I wouldn’t have the numbers to give you and it wouldn’t be a real tuition hearing.”
Instead, Gitenstein said, she and Weinberg will conduct a budget presentation at the April 24 Board of Trustees meeting, the tuition hearing will be held in the middle of June and tuition issues will be finalized at the end-of-June Board meeting.