The Rutgers Board of Governors has approved a 2.2 percent tuition, room and board hike for next year.Board of Governors Chairman Ralph Izzo says, “In the face of significant budgetary challenges, the staff and faculty of our university continue to identify new efficiencies in order to provide an affordable, high-quality education for New Jersey’s top high school graduates.”

As the final vote was taken, students outside were chanting for a zero percent increase.

Rutgers President Dr. Richard Edwards says a tuition freeze is simply not possible because the University agreed to contracts with several unions last year.

“And just to pay the raises that were in those unions would require us to have a 2.2 percent tuition increase…The cost of everything continues to up, including salaries for union employees, gasoline. We have the second largest fleet of buses in the state of New Jersey; food costs have been skyrocketing.”

He says people in the state of New Jersey need to remember “of those several other 4 year institutions that have already announced their tuition increases, we are by far the lowest…The other schools that have announced tuitions increases are between 3 percent and 5 or 6 percent …And private institutions have tuitions that are considerably higher…We’re committed to getting more student aid – we did that last year and we’ll do it again this year…We live in a very difficult time. Our general nation’s economy is still not robust to say the least, the cost of living is going up in all kinds of areas – students loans are increasing, so students are graduating owing more debt. These are significant problems…It’s a very difficult time so my heart goes out to the students who are having that kind of difficulty.”

Many students were furious after the Board voted for the increases.

One student said, “With everybody struggling, we thought it was the appropriate time to keep education affordable- some students are choosing between food and education…A lot of these students are living hand to mouth. They’re making just enough money to get by, which means they’re going to have to work 13 months out of the year somehow, which is impossible…It worries me- I’m concerned as to whether or not a lot of students will be able to return to school…I’m obviously disappointed – any year we can afford to keep tuition stagnant and we don’t it’s always a grave disappointment. It doesn’t seem to make sense to me.”

Another student said she’s glad it wasn’t even higher, but “having to spend more money is horrible – it’s unbelievable actually…This is absolutely disgraceful in the remnants of a recession – it is a disgrace.”

One young man standing by said, “It’s highly disappointing the university thinks this is a way to dismiss us and silence us. They don’t realize what they have just done…We know things could be worse but we also know things could definitely be better.”