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NJ Community Colleges Fight $20 Million State Aid Cut

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Governor Phil Murphy plans to cut state funding for community colleges by $20 million. Educators, college administrators and students say this budget cut would devastate students and the college community.

“This cut will have a significant negative impact on our colleges,” said Dr. Aaron Fichtner, president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. “Colleges will be forced to raise tuition, cut programs and services… our colleges will be scrambling to make some very difficult decisions that will have a real impact on students.”

As things stand, one-third of the funding for community colleges in the Garden State will come from state grants. Another third will come from the counties in which the colleges are located. The rest of the funding will come from tuition fees.

But Fichtner said: “[New Jersey] However, they have never fulfilled these obligations,” adding that “tuition fees now account for 55% of the cost of running the colleges.”

This makes government subsidies all the more important for institutions as they work to keep tuition fees affordable.

New Jersey's method for funding community colleges is not as complicated as the state's formula for supporting public schools. It's a single-line allocation in Gov. Phil Murphy's budget proposal that is divided among the state's 18 community colleges.

Instead of economic factors such as tax revenues and local income, the state formula takes into account the number of students enrolled, the number of enrolled students from low-income groups receiving state and federal assistance, the number of students from groups underrepresented in higher education, and the number of students who complete their degrees.

In addition, it must be ensured that smaller institutions receive sufficient funding.

“We are proud that our formula is now meritocratic,” Fichtner said. “It recognizes the important role our colleges play in enrolling, admitting adult students, expanding access to higher education and helping students graduate.”

Anna Harden

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