Lawmaker calls for hearing looking into student fees following Comptroller report

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey. Photo courtesy of Jasey.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey. Photo courtesy of Jasey’s office.

By Rebecca Panico | Published May 3, 2016

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D – Essex/Morris) called for a legislative hearing looking into the fees public colleges charge students following a Comptroller’s report released last week.

MORE: Kean rejects most of Comptroller’s findings in student fee report

The report tracked how Kean, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and William Paterson University (WPU) spent student fees and found few justifications for their increases. Only WPU could provide documentation that justified their fee increases.

“Any student who has worried about how he or she will pay for tuition should be rightfully concerned,” Jasey, who also heads the Assembly Higher Education Committee, said in a statement. “Given the amount of money that students and families are investing in higher education in the state, it is only right that they are made aware of how their hard-earned money is being spent.”

Fees at Kean accounted for nearly 35 percent of the overall cost of attending an undergraduate program in 2013, the year the audit was conducted. That amounted to $45.2 million in revenue for the university, the report said.

Currently, the Comptroller’s report said, there is no law to regulate the mandatory fee process at public universities and colleges. The audit wanted to see what controls schools had voluntarily placed on themselves for raising fees.

RELATED: Kean hikes tuition for new school year

The report found that Kean and TCNJ comingle a number of fees into one fund, making it difficult to track surpluses and deficits in each fee. Additionally, all schools did not specify that certain fees were used for payroll costs.

The report suggested that, in addition to Board of Trustees bylaws and resolutions, each school should develop written policies and procedures that establish internal controls over the development and assessment of fees.

Kean was the only school that declined to comply with that suggestion, citing justification for fee increases are in Trustees’ resolutions. Kean also rejected most of the other recommendations in the report.

Kean spokeswoman Margaret McCorry emphasized that the university is compliant with all current standard practices for public universities while maintaining one of the lowest rates for four-year schools in the state.

“The [Comptroller’s Office] has made recommendations to Kean and two other public universities in New Jersey,” McCorry said last week. “These recommendations – if considered best practice – should be made standard practice for all public colleges and universities in the state.”

Rebecca Panico may be reached at panicore@kean.edu. Follow The Tower on Twitter@KeanTower. Find The Tower on Facebook.

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