Turner: Colleges Which Violated Budget Guidelines Should Have Federal Stimulus Funding Rescinded

TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, today delivered a letter to State Treasurer David Rousseau, calling upon him to review whether Ramapo College’s recently adopted tuition and student fee schedule exceeds the Fiscal Year 2010 budget’s 3 percent cap. In the letter, Senator Turner asked the Treasurer to also examine the other State colleges’ and universities’ tuition and fee increases, and reallocate funding from schools which have exceeded the 3 percent cap, to the schools which followed the budget guidelines.

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Please see attached letter.

August 13, 2009

Honorable David Rousseau

State Treasurer

Department of the Treasury

125 West State Street

P.O. Box 002

Trenton, NJ 08625-0002

Dear Treasurer Rousseau:

I am writing this letter to ask you to review whether Ramapo College’s recently adopted tuition and student fee schedule exceeds the 3 percent cap written into the FY 2010 budget recently enacted by the Legislature and the Governor, and take appropriate steps to rescind whatever federal stimulus dollars the college was to have gotten.

The college’s board of trustees last week voted to approve a student capital improvement fee of $164 per semester. This would result in an increase in tuition and fees of 6 percent. While I understand Ramapo College officials believe a capital improvement fee on students is needed at this time to make building repairs and upgrade facilities, this increase is twice the 3 percent cap in the budget. The clear language of the budget makes receipt of federal stimulus funds by colleges contingent upon staying within that cap.

I also respectfully ask you to review the tuition and student fees at the other state colleges for the upcoming 2009-2010 school year. Published reports this week indicate that five of the state’s 10 public four-year institutions, including Ramapo, may have exceeded the 3 percent cap. The Press of Atlantic City reported The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, Richard Stockton College and William Paterson University have approved tuition and fees in excess of the 3 percent cap. If this is the case, their federal stimulus money should be reallocated among the other colleges, which have stayed within the cap.

I recognize that colleges and universities had to find ways to continue offering our students the best possible educational opportunities, but increases in excess of the 3 percent cap place too much of a burden on the backs of students and their families. Allowing schools that violated the budget language would also be extremely unfair to the colleges that were in compliance with the 3 percent cap. The cap was put into place for a reason, and the language of the budget must be obeyed.

Sincerely,

Shirley K. Turner

Senator, District 15