NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University has approved a tuition increase for the upcoming school year.

The Board of Governors approved a budget proposal Thursday that contains a 3.5 percent increase in tuition and a 1.5 percent increase in room and board. Officials say the additional funds are needed to cover mandatory salary increases and new projects.

Students tell News 12 New Jersey they are already struggling, and often have to choose between having money to buy food and paying their tuition. Rutgers approved a 2 1/2 percent increase last year.

Several dozen students protested on campus as the Board of Governors prepared to vote on raising their tuition.

This year, in-state Rutgers students paid nearly $26,000 in tuition, fees, and room and board. The Board of Governors says this is comparable to other mid-Atlantic universities.