MCC proposes 9.5 percent tuition hike

Freeholder says he will push college to bring that number down

Staff Writer

MCC proposes 9.5
percent tuition hike
Staff Writer

A proposed 9.5 percent tuition hike for Middlesex County College students was met with stiff resistance from Freeholder Director David B. Crabiel last week.

The college’s board of trustees proposed a budget of $58.5 million in March, one that would mean a $7 hike per credit from $73.50 to $80.50 next year.

Crabiel says the increase is too much.

"Last year, they went up 4.9 percent, and I got some flak for that," Crabiel said from his Milltown office last week. He’s pushing the college to bring that number down, and has enlisted county Budget Director Albert Kuchinskas in the effort.

Tom Peterson, who heads up media relations for the college, said that for its part, the school is "sharpening our pencils to reduce expenses. We’re interested in keeping tuition low, as everyone else is."

Spikes in health insurance, utilities costs and union contracts account for the bulk of what Peterson said is a 1.3 percent increase over last year’s operating budget.

One way the college is cutting costs is by not filling recently vacated positions, Peterson said.

There is a four-step process each budget must go through before being enacted, according to Peterson. First, a preliminary budget is passed by the board of trustees; then a public hearing is held. Those two steps have already been completed.

Next, a final budget must be passed and, finally, sent to the Board of School Estimate for final approval.

Crabiel, who sits on that board along with other freeholders, said the tuition increase needs to be trimmed, and is confident that will happen.

"I think a 4.5 percent increase is enough, and I believe they’ll come in at that number," he said. "I don’t think there’s any support among any of the freeholders [for a 9.5 percent tuition increase]."

As one might expect, students are less than enthusiastic about paying more per credit next year, even if the number is brought down to only a 4.5 percent increase.

"It’s just bad in general. It’s never a good thing when costs go up. What’s wrong with the tuition they have now?" asked Lendy Ochoa of Piscataway.

Tarik Smith, a full-time student from Carteret, expressed surprise at the proposed increase.

"Usually I’m up on things, but I didn’t even know. Tuition for me was never the problem; it was more the books. But even proposing 9.5 percent is insane. It would break my pockets," Smith said.

Peterson said he expects the board of trustees to vote on a revised budget plan by the end of May.