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File this away for now

On a conference call yesterday, Jon Corzine announced that, due to the foundering economy, the projected 2009 state budget deficit will increase by $900 million. That number, perhaps optimistically, includes hundreds of millions in federal aid as part of a stimulus package, and large concessions from powerful state labor unions.

It's important to be cognizant of RU's extremely precarious financial state. Due the market, the school's endowment has fallen by 20% over the past to a measly $410 million (universities such as Harvard and UVA have lost billions). New Jersey has drastically cut state aid to Rutgers during the past decade. Rutgers has responded in a variety of ways. They have jacked up tuition and enrollment in order to squeeze as much as possible (which causes a host of other problems), and have had to put off needed faculty hirings and infrastructure improvements.

Rutgers was in a precarious situation during the relative "boom" times; state aid to higher education around the country was increasing by a fair amount, while it was falling in New Jersey. Rutgers received $309 million in state aid (25% of its budget) last year, a cut from $374 million (34.5%) a decade ago. Now that things are much worse, the school could be in for more cuts. This budget process won't begin in earnest until March. I am not advocating any specific course of action; only that Rutgers alumni, and fans of its athletic teams, remain active and engaged.