Backed into a corner by dwindling government support, state colleges and universities in New Jersey claim they've had to depend more on donations from alumni to reach their financial goals.

College Avenue on the campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
College Avenue on the campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. (Townsquare Media)

It's never a predictable business, according to Susan Dolbert of the Rutgers University Foundation, but the institution has a goal of raising between $150 million and $200 million per year from alumni and other supporters.

"Last year, we had our largest year ever for fundraising and we raised $187.9 million in fiscal year 2014-2015," Dolbert said.

That's on top of the $1 billion-plus garnered during a 7 1/2-year campaign that wrapped up December 2014.

Dolbert said the school switched from relying more on state funding to relying more on tuition about 13 years ago as a result of budget cuts and flat funding of higher education aid. Private support helps fill the gaps.

The numbers are not so large at every state school, but the push is on.

At Montclair State University, nearly $8 million was raised from donors in the last fiscal year to support scholarships and other initiatives.

"We're hoping to hit that again but may not quite get there," said Lisa Hoyt with the university group devoted to fundraising and alumni relations.

The annual scholarship dinner last month brought in more than $750,000.

Scholarships are the main attraction for benefactors of Ramapo College in Mahwah. According to Cathleen Davey of the Ramapo College Foundation, donated funds also help advance capital projects or renovate existing buildings.

"Certainly our alumni are our strongest constituent," Davey said. "And the corporations in the area are wonderful because they have our students as interns and they're hiring our students upon graduation."

Completed in April 2015, Ramapo's multi-year campaign brought in donations totaling more than $56 million, comprised of gifts from over 13,500 donors.

These schools and others in the state utilize a multi-pronged approach to contact alumni and keep them connected to their alma mater. Social media and email are the easiest and perhaps most effective ways to reach younger alumni, while mailers and phone calls tend to work best with graduates of previous generations.