The Bucks Stop Here

The College lost more than $8 million in state support for this fiscal year. The budget cuts have caused the College to increase tuition and enrollment and to hold off on filling 13 full-time faculty positions, resulting in more adjunct professors, larger class sizes and less faculty time for student mentoring.

Some of the other cost-saving measures taken include the elimination of funding for cheerleading and varsity men’s golf, an $800,000 cut to the graduate student stipend program and more than $900,000 in cuts to the Maintenance and Information Technology departments, according to a press release from the office of Public Relations Web site.

Legislators cut $3 million from the College’s base appropriation. The cut left the College to pay for salary program increases, costing $3.5 million. The cut also includes four years of Outstanding Scholar Recruitment Program merit scholarships, awarded to this year’s freshman class before the cuts, costing the College an additional $1.5 million.

The cuts were among $150 million cut from higher education across the state and came after College Administrators had trimmed the College’s budget each year since 2002, when state support began decreasing.

This year’s cut was by far the largest in that time, College Treasurer Barbara Wineberg said.

“This was a very stressful undertaking from the very beginning,” Wineberg said in response to this year’s cuts, which were first proposed by Gov. Jon S. Corzine in March. “To face this on a very lean budget was doubly difficult. More than doubly difficult.”

Students, administrators and faculty launched a petition and letter-writing campaign to restore funding to higher education. Legislators ultimately did restore $4 million of the initially proposed cut, enabling the school to avert a potential shutdown and temporarily lay off of College employees for a week in January to save $1.3 million.

“We were relieved that the restoration was enough to enable us to not take drastic measures,” like the shutdown, Wineberg said.

Students across the state rallied for the restoration of funds in Trenton on April 27. Michael Strom, vice president of legal and governmental affairs for the Student Government Association, e-mailed arguments for increasing funding to the College to every senator and assemblyman on the budget committee and his other local officials, Strom said.

“I have gotten replies from seven of them, saying that they are pleased I contacted them, that my views factored into their decision, and then listing how much money they restored,” Strom said in an e-mail. “Most of the responses were very basic, but some seemed sincere.”

Strom said the lobbying chair of legal and governmental affairs, Daniel Beckelman, met with Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) and a state senator from Wayne to plead for more funding on June 6. The senator was very agreeable but the assemblyman was less fazed, Strom added.

College President R. Barbara Gitenstein met with scores of state senators and assemblymen, Strom said.

“I was continually humbled and gratified by the support, advice, and advocacy that came from so many members of our community,” Gitenstein said at the July 11 Board of Trustees meeting, according to the office of Public Relations. “Without these advocates and supporters, the negative impact of the state’s dismal financial circumstance would have been substantially worse on the operations of (the College).”

Tuition for in-state residents at the College increased by 8 percent, the maximum increase allowed by the state, to $3,807.50 per semester. The total cost, including computer access and student insurance, increased by 12.65 percent for in-state and out-of-state residents. Tuition for full-time out-of-state residents increased by 15 percent.

The cost per credit for part-time students increased by 8 percent to $368.40 for in-state residents, and increased to $600.07 for out-of-state students. The cost per credit for graduate students increased by 8 percent to $618.10 for in-state residents and increased by 15 percent to $875.25 for out-of-state residents.

The office of Public Relations called the cuts a “monumental loss of state funding” in a July 17 campus-wide e-mail.

Because of the cuts, The College of New Jersey Foundation, which solicits private gifts for the College, will increase the school’s revenue by increasing its donation to the College by 50 percent, from $1 million to $1.5 million.

Legislators approved the budget on July 8 after missing the July 1 deadline, causing the state government to shut down for the first time in New Jersey’s history.