Rutgers takes rightful pride in the diversity and inclusiveness of its student body. Much as you find in communities across New Jersey, we boast significant percentages of Latino, African-American, and Asian-American students, along with growing numbers of international students. More than 20 percent of each entering class are the first in their families to attend college. We are also ranked by the organization Campus Pride as one of the 25 most LGBTQ-friendly universities in the United States. Our students’ vast array of experiences and insights enriches our classrooms and residence halls, our performance spaces and athletic arenas.

Equally important is our commitment to maintain economic diversity. Rutgers boasts a long tradition of being a place of opportunity and access. Many of our most successful alumni came from modest means, and they often credit their achievements to the support they received from a financial scholarship or a campus job.

We value socioeconomic diversity, and we recognize the struggle that many families encounter in sending their son or daughter off to college. More than 30 percent of undergraduates are here on Pell grants—a federal assistance program for families whose incomes are close to the poverty line. Sixty percent are receiving some sort of need-based financial aid. And a great many Rutgers students are working their way through school—sometimes with two or more jobs. At any point, there are more than 13,000 Rutgers students working for the university on one of our campuses.

In recognition of their struggle, we have worked very hard to hold tuition down so that Rutgers remains affordable. Last year, we limited the tuition and fees increase to 1.85 percent, and a similar percentage increase the year before. In January, as another form of financial assistance for our hard-working students, we increased the minimum wage for student workers at Rutgers to $11 an hour—a 30 percent increase over the current New Jersey minimum wage. 

When we plan our yearly budget, we don’t focus on producing a comfortable operating margin. Instead, we strive to keep the net cost of tuition as low as possible. And we ask our fundraisers at the Rutgers University Foundation to make scholarship assistance a priority. We are working hard to keep a Rutgers education as affordable for today’s students as it was for our alumni, and to make certain it stays that way as we move forward.