TRENTON - The cost for in-state students going to New Jersey's largest university is rising again.

An 8.5 percent tuition increase approved by the Rutgers Board of Governors yesterday means a typical undergraduate student will pay roughly $21,500 for tuition, student fees, and room and board in the 2008-09 school year.

Of the $21,500, about $11,500 goes toward tuition and fees; room and board accounts for the other $10,000.

Out-of-state undergraduate students typically pay another $10,000 in tuition.

"If you're funding your education on your own from one, two, three jobs - for every dollar that tuition is raised, that's more work you're going to do outside of the classroom, versus in the classroom," said Christopher Keating, an incoming senior and chairman of the Rutgers University Student Assembly.

The increase at Rutgers comes after the state Legislature in June slashed funding to the university by $35.6 million - a 10.8 percent reduction. The state is also only partially funding salary increases negotiated with the university's employees.

"Difficult decisions lie ahead," said Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick, "but I am confident that our university community will meet the challenges of the coming year and maintain Rutgers' commitment to excellence, access and affordability."

Total cost increases for students are becoming an annual event at Rutgers.

For the coming year, total costs for in-state students are going up by 6.5 percent. Last year, they went up by 6.1 percent, even though state funding was slightly up.

Higher education funding statewide has been slashed by $61 million. The funding cut means that most state colleges and universities are raising tuition by 7 to 8 percent for the upcoming year, said Paul Shelly, spokesman for the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities.