Photo of ariel view of campus buildings.

Tuition and Fees Hearing Fiscal Year 2019

This summary is also available in Word Document format:  Board of Trustees Tuition and Fees Hearing Summary – Fiscal Year 2019 (DOC)

General Background

Montclair State University has a century-long tradition of providing high-quality education to the citizens of New Jersey at affordable tuition and fee rates.  As we prepare to set tuition rates for next Fiscal Year, the University will again be faced with limited state operating support for higher education.

Historically, tuition and fee rates have been significantly affected by changes in state appropriation, and, as is usually the case, final tuition and fee proposals will be presented to the Board of Trustees after the New Jersey State Legislature approves a spending plan and it is signed into law by the Governor, which is scheduled to occur in June.  The April tuition and fees hearing is intended to provide the Board of Trustees with the opportunity to hear the views of the University community on this very important subject in order to inform their decision.

The Board of Trustees will consider a number of factors in deciding whether to recommend changes to tuition rates, including: the availability of state funding for general and fringe benefit appropriations; the current level of student charges, including tuition and fees; comparative tuition and fee rates for undergraduate and graduate programs at State and benchmark institutions; the availability of financial aid programs; efforts to improve graduation rates and thereby reduce student debt; the University’s immediate and long-term strategic priorities; and changes resulting from state-negotiated collective bargaining agreements and other mandated programs.

Several sources of revenue enable the University to deliver its educational services and requisite support functions.  The most important of these are revenues generated through student tuition and fees and appropriations from the State of New Jersey.  For Fiscal Year 2018, 57 percent of the University’s total operating budget comes from tuition and fees, while total appropriations from the State of New Jersey yield only 19 percent of total revenues.  Auxiliary enterprise revenues represent another 19 percent; however, this income is dedicated to expenditures related to auxiliary enterprise activities, including their debt service.  All remaining revenue sources amount to only 5 percent.  The proportion of revenues provided by State appropriations has been declining over the past decade, while the proportion generated through tuition and fees has been increasing.  This trend is expected to continue next fiscal year, as the Governor has proposed keeping general operating appropriations for Montclair State University at $35.9 million, the same amount received over the prior three fiscal years, and $14.5 million less than the University was receiving in FY2006. 

Summary of Current Tuition and Fees

  • Montclair State University ranks below the State sector average for undergraduate and graduate tuition and fees. With an annual undergraduate student tuition and fee rates of $12,445 for Fiscal Year 2018, Montclair State University is charging 26.3% less than the most expensive New Jersey senior public institution and 10.5% less than the average of New Jersey’s senior public colleges and universities.  At $16,641 for Fiscal Year 2018, Montclair State University’s graduate tuition is 26.7% less than the most expensive institution and 12.3% less than the average.
  • Tuition and fees for out-of-state undergraduate students is 35.6% less than the most expensive institution and 14.5% less than the average. Tuition and fees for out-of-state graduate students at Montclair State University is 25.3% less than the most expensive institution and 8.0% below the sector average.
  • The average undergraduate tuition and fees for New Jersey residents attending public institutions in New Jersey is significantly less than the published out-of-state tuition and fee rates for the most popular universities that import students from New Jersey. In addition, the difference between combined in-state and out-of-state tuition and fee rates at New Jersey public institutions is, on average, significantly less than the difference at our benchmark institutions.
  • The combined undergraduate in-state tuition and fee rates at Montclair State University rank near the top compared to benchmark institutions in other states, while the combined undergraduate out-of-state tuition and fee rates at Montclair State University rank near the bottom compared to benchmark institutions in other states. The combined graduate in-state tuition and fee rates and out-of-state tuition and fee rates at Montclair State University are higher than the rates for most benchmark institutions in other states.
  • The University simplified its tuition and fee structure in FY2018 to provide a more streamlined and transparent student bill.  Under the realignment, the University no longer charges separate fees for activities that should be covered by tuition, such as instruction-related programming, computing and technology infrastructure, facility operations, and general administration.  These costs are now reflected in tuition.  As a result, Montclair State University’s annual undergraduate student fees of $1,647 are 65.4% less than those charged by the institution with the highest fees in the sector, and 47.5% less than the average.  Montclair State University’s graduate student fees of $864 for Fiscal Year 2017 are 80.3% less than the most expensive institution and 67.6% less than the average for the sector.
  • For the MFA program, combined tuition and fee rates at Montclair State University are the lowest among the four MFA programs offered by New Jersey public institutions. Tuition and fees for the MBA program are quite low compared to other similar programs offered by New Jersey public and private institutions.  Tuition and fees for the doctoral programs also are quite low compared to other similar programs offered by public institutions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but are higher than similar programs offered in public institutions in New York.

Student Financial Aid

The university’s financial aid to undergraduate students continues to grow.  Anticipated expenditures for the coming academic year for need and merit-based grants and scholarships will represent an 18.5% increase in funding over academic year 2017-2018 and a 130% increase over funding levels since academic year 2011-2012.  Funds earmarked for need-based awards will make up 54% of university financial assistance in the next academic year compared with 20% in 2011-2012.  It is important to note however, that 75% of students who received merit awards in academic year 2017-2018 were also students who demonstrated need.  This fall the university will provide need and merit-based aid to approximately 850 incoming freshmen, compared to 265 entering freshmen just five years ago.  Forty-four percent of all undergraduate students enrolled at the university in academic year 2017-2018 received Federal Pell Grants, 7,362 recipients out of a total fall semester undergraduate enrollment of 16,852 students.  By definition, students receiving Pell Grants are presumed to be capable of financing only a very small fraction of their educational costs.
In total, for Fiscal Year 2018, $77 million was distributed in grant and scholarship aid to Montclair State University undergraduates in addition to $64 million in student loans and $7.5 million in campus employment.  Grant funds come from four sources – Federal, State, university and Foundation – and awards are based on merit and/or need. The breakdown of resources for undergraduate students is as follows:

  • Federal Grants
    • $ 35,249,453
    • 100% need-based
    • 7,629 recipients
  • State Grants
    • $32,389,559
    • 99.3% need-based; .7% merit-based
    • 6,453 recipients
  • University Grants
    • $7,954,069
    • 53% need-based; 47% merit-based
    • 2,344 recipients
  • Foundation Grants
    • $1,612,580
    • 72% merit and need-based; 24% merit-based; 4% need-based
    • 609 recipients
  • Federal Loans
    • $36,200,680
    • 100% Need-Based (Subsidized Stafford and Perkins Loans)
    • 8,606 recipients
  • Federal Loans
    • $28,208,398
    • 100% Non-Need-Based (Unsubsidized Stafford Loans)
    • 9,232 recipients
  • Campus Employment
    • $7,259,483
    • 90% Non-Need Based; 10% Need-Based
    • 2,459 recipients 

The figures above reflect the number of student recipients in each of the respective programs, but most students received funding from multiple programs. For academic year 2017-2018, 13,786 undergraduate students received funding from one or more programs. In the fall 2017 semester, 77.6% of all undergraduates received some form of assistance.

In the Federal Pell Grant Program, the maximum award for academic year 2017-2018 is $5,920.  Award amounts for academic year 2018-2019 have not yet been finalized, however it appears that Congress is poised to approve a maximum award of $6,095, an increase of $175.  In academic year 2017-2018, 4,394 Montclair State University students were eligible for receive the maximum Pell Grant.  The 7,792 total Pell Grant recipients received $2.2 million more in Pell Grant funding in academic year 2017-2018 than in the previous academic year.

The university has been informed that it will be receiving an increase of $105,455 in Federal Campus-Based funding in the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study programs for academic year 2018-2019, an 8% increase in funding over the prior year.

Montclair State students received $4.4 million more in Tuition Aid Grants (TAG) in academic year 2017-2018 than in the previous academic year.  This was due in part to the university’s designation as a Research Institution which resulted in expanded TAG eligibility for Montclair State students.  For academic year 2017-2018, 6,540 Montclair State students received TAG awards, an increase of 1,229 students over the prior academic year.

Governor Murphy has requested a $7 million increase in funding for the TAG Program in his recently announced budget proposal for FY19.  At this point it is not clear how these incremental funds will be allocated.  While the TAG Program is tremendously beneficial to Montclair State students, the program could be doing much more.  The allocation of funds to individual institutions is inequitable to most public four-year institutions and the program is in need of reform.

The U.S. Department of Education recently released three-year draft cohort default rates for Fiscal Year 2015 for all colleges and universities.  Montclair State University’s reported rate was 4.8%, much lower than the national rate which was 11.5% in the most recent year for which data are available.  The university’s student loan indebtedness reported by the federal government in its most recent release of “College Scorecard” showed median debt for Montclair State University students who have taken loans of $22,999.  It is important to note that indebtedness averages vary significantly depending on whether the student commuted or lived on-campus and on how long it took the students to complete their program. The percentage of former Montclair State University students who are actively repaying their student loans (making payments of interest and principal) is 67%, much higher than the national average of 47%.

The Financial Aid Office continues to promote financial literacy education to students through a number of initiatives, and the university continues to explore services that would support financial literacy, student loan repayment, and the transition to loan repayment by graduating students.  In addition, the student-run organization, Financial Literacy Leadership Program, is dedicated to providing financial literacy programming to their peers.  This group operates with a staff adviser and they provide information to students on financial aid, insurance, credit scores, identity theft, real estate, investments, and contract and tenancies.  There are ongoing efforts to grow this program and to seek partnerships from the business community. 

Graduation Rates

Montclair State’s IPEDS six-year graduation rate for our 2011 full-time, first-time undergraduate cohort was 65.3%, which is significantly higher than the average for comparable institutions nationally.  That is the second highest cohort graduation rate in the University’s history.  The IPEDS rate is based on the percent of an entering cohort who earn their degrees within six years at the institution they first entered.  However, mobility among students is greater now than it has been in past decades, and nationally a number of students transfer from one four-year college to another for a variety of personal and educational reasons.  The National Student Clearinghouse tracks these data, and they show that if one also includes members of the cohort who completed their degree at another four-year college within the six-year period, Montclair State’s six-year completion rate is 75.2%, considerably higher than the comparable rate of 61.3% for national four-year public institutions. 

Priorities for Fiscal Year 2019

In developing the operating budget for Fiscal Year 2019, Montclair State University considers both its immediate resource needs and its long-term budget needs.  The following priorities have been identified for next fiscal year and beyond:

  • Continued investment in the University’s most important resource – a highly qualified faculty. Thirty-five new faculty joined the University this year, and 34 new tenure-track faculty are being recruited to join the faculty in September 2018.
  • Continued growth and development of high quality academic programs. New academic programs currently in development include a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, M.S. in Nursing, M.S. in Cybersecurity, M.F.A. in Creative Innovation and Technology, Master of Social Work, B.A. in Writing Studies, B.A. in Medical Humanities and a B.A. in Language, Business, and Culture.
  • Increased University-supported undergraduate need-based and merit-based financial aid of $1.3 million, or 18.5%.
  • Continued enhancements to student advising and support services. The University will be establishing a new college in fall 2018 for approximately 2,500 new and continuing students annually who do not have a formal affiliation with a college or school. These students are generally among the newest and least experienced students.  University College will help retain undergraduate students who are admitted to the University, connect students with an appropriate program of study consistent with their abilities and interests, and enhance the opportunity for those students to achieve timely completion of a baccalaureate degree.   The University will be also be strengthening its advising services in each of the other colleges and schools. Further, the University will continue enhancing student services through Red Hawk Central, which provides one-stop student services for financial aid, registrar and student accounts.
  • Continued investment in capital facilities. Major construction projects close to completion or in planning include the renovation of Mallory Hall, which will provide a new home for the computer sciences, and the renovation of College Hall, the University’s original building.  College Hall will house and centralize all academic support services including admissions, financial aid, registrar, student accounts, advising and enrollment management, disability services and tutorial services, as well as house a fully modernized data and network operations center.  These two facilities will require debt service and operational.
  • Continued enhancements to the University’s technology infrastructure. In Fiscal Year 2019, the University will complete a comprehensive campus-wide network upgrade to provide increased speed, capacity and security to all academic, administrative and residential buildings as well as outdoor areas.  This investment is supported by bonds issued by the state and University matching funds.   Further investments are also being made to the more than 350 mediated spaces across the campus that provide integrated audio-visual, broadcast and learning management technologies.

State Support

New Jersey senior public institutions, including Montclair State University, remain significantly underfunded.  The proposed general appropriation budget for the senior public institutions is essentially being held flat in Fiscal Year 2019.  Since Fiscal Year 2006, general appropriations for senior public institutions were reduced by $194 million, or 20 percent, while enrollment has grown by more than 34,000 students, or 22 percent.  It is anticipated that enrollment will grow again in Fiscal Year 2019, and the consequence is a continuing and steady decline in state operating support per student in the senior public colleges and universities.  In the proposed budget for the 2018-2019 academic year, operating support per FTE student at Montclair State is expected to drop to $1,988, compared to $3,982 in Fiscal Year 2006, a decline of 50%.   Declining state support continues to create economic pressures for New Jersey’s institutions and their students.