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New Jersey Commission on Higher
FY 2010 Budget Policy Statement
adopted by NJ Commission on Higher Education,
November 21, 2008
During these challenging economic
times, investments in higher education are necessary to support
our state's economy and continue the quality of life for our citizens.
The New Jersey Commission on Higher Education is pleased to provide
budget policy recommendations for fiscal 2010 to enhance that investment.
Our recommendations are consistent with New Jersey's long-range
plan for higher education, A
Blueprint for Excellence, which is focused on
the inextricable link between educational opportunity and the economy.
Our institutions of higher learning have the ability to
improve our state's economic competitiveness by preparing new
graduates, retooling dislocated workers, and conducting research
and development. Colleges and universities provide workers
with the necessary skills to increase human productivity, which
in turn contributes to overall increases in economic growth.
New jobs in a churning economy favor highly skilled workers,
and skill requirements for existing jobs are increasing. Furthermore,
university research and development cultivates technology and
innovation that drives business improvement and growth.
Recognizing the state's ongoing fiscal constraints, the
Commission recommends targeted increases for higher education
that will yield positive returns to our students, citizens,
and state. These increases are focused on improving access
and providing affordable, high-quality educational opportunities
for students and enhancing the economy.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FISCAL 2010
Support for Student Financial Aid:
New Jersey has long been committed to higher education access,
affordability, and choice for students. The state is consistently
among the leaders in the nation in providing need-based student
financial assistance and academic and counseling assistance
to students who may have not had the same secondary educational
opportunities as their peers.
Support for Disadvantaged Students:
The primary student assistance programs, Tuition Aid Grants (TAG)
and the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), should continue
to be a priority. For fiscal 2010, the Commission recommends
that the state maintain the one-year lag in TAG award values
for students demonstrating the highest need and begin efforts
to move other eligible students closer to the one-year lag
level. In September, 2008 the maximum grant for a state college
is $6,036 while tuition and fees at our colleges this year
range from $8,725 to $12,308. At Rutgers, the maximum grant
is $7,922 while tuition and fees are $11,540. At county colleges,
the maximum award is $2,238 while tuitions range from $2,895
to $4,018. At independent colleges, the maximum grant is
$10,236 while tuition and fees range from $20,080 to $36,470.
An estimated 61,154 students will receive full-time TAG awards.
The current three-year lag often presents an insurmountable
hurdle to deserving students facing up to a 50% gap between
the TAG award and current tuition and fees. The economic
downturn has created a growing demand for higher education
assistance so a provision for an increased number of awards
is also encouraged.
EOF serves approximately 12,400 students, but the state
support funding for the critical academic support for these
students has lagged behind the amount need to support campus
programs for many years. In the absence of consistent state
support, the colleges and universities are exceeding the statutory
50% match requirement. During fiscal 2009, the state colleges
and universities are providing a 65% match, the independent
colleges and universities 61%, the public research universities
60%, and the county colleges 58% of the costs of supporting
campus EOF services for EOF students.
Since summer 2002, fiscal constraints have resulted in
a decrease of 718 students served by the EOF Summer Program,
which is so critical to the transition to college. For fiscal
2010, the Commission encourages consideration of an increase
in EOF Article IV grants for institutions to provide adequate
support services for all EOF students. Consideration of increased
support for Article III is also recommended to enhance the
quality and increase the number of students served in the EOF
Summer Program and to help ensure affordability.
The Commission supports the proposed changes by the NJ STARS
Task Force, which would increase the eligibility requirements
and reduce the financial burden to the senior public colleges.
Support for Colleges and Universities:
State operating support and student
tuition and fees are the two primary sources of revenue for New
Jersey's colleges and universities. Operating aid reductions in
previous budgets have had demonstrable impacts on these institutions
as well as on our students. In fiscal 2010, we recommend the adoption
of a multi-year strategy to sustain predictable operating budgets
to allow the colleges to deliver high-quality programs and services
and minimize increased costs for students into the future.
Senior Public Colleges and Universities:
In November 2006 the Commission adopted Policy
Recommendations for Operating Support of Senior Public Colleges
and Universities in New Jersey. We continue
to encourage the consideration of dual funding components of
base support and targeted incentive funds to support these state
institutions, which provide extensive educational opportunities
and services for the state and its citizens. The targeted incentive
funds should be driven by current state needs and initiatives,
such as accelerated degree completion, tech transfer and commercialization,
and increasing graduates in high demand areas such as mathematics
and the sciences.
The Commission recommends increased base operating support
for the 12 senior public institutions to help fund contractual
salary increases and other inflationary costs and to provide
competitive educational programs for New Jersey's students.
Base operating support is also critically important for the
competitiveness of the three public research universities in
the area of research and development. In order to provide the
state-of-the-art facilities and recruit and retain the talented
faculty to be competitive for national research awards, it
is imperative that there be a stable and predictable operating
Continued state support of fringe benefits for employees
at these institutions is equally important. State funding of
these mandated annual costs means that costs are not passed
on to student tuition and fees, and the colleges are able to
use the operating support to maintain and enhance academic
quality, programs, and services.
The second component of the recent recommendations calls
for incentive funds for targeted state priorities. While budget
constraints may preclude initiation of this component in fiscal
2010, a pilot effort could be established with a relatively
small set-aside to address a critical state need such as a
labor market shortage or to accelerate growth in a scientific
New Jersey's community colleges rely on state, county, and student
support, ideally with a one-third share of operating costs
from each. These 19 institutions play a dual role in meeting
the growing demand for higher education and addressing workforce
needs. For many students, they provide a cost-effective launch
to baccalaureate degrees, as well as access to associates
degrees and industry recognized credentials for more immediate
help in the workforce. During this economic downturn, our
community colleges have experienced enrollment growth in
all of their programs. Increased state operating support
is necessary for the community colleges to help fund contractual
salary and benefit increases and other inflationary costs.
The Commission recommends that the state provide additional
operating support for community colleges in fiscal 2010,
with a goal of a one-third state share of the cost of attending
in the near future. As the state moves toward that goal,
counties should strive for at least a one-third share as
well, thereby minimizing the need for tuition increases for
many of our neediest citizens.
Independent Colleges and Universities:
The state's 14 independent colleges and universities, with a
public mission, serve over one-quarter of the students attending
four-year colleges in the state. Over 75 percent of the students
at these colleges are New Jersey residents. The state support
provided to the independent institutions helps to hold down
the cost to New Jersey students and enhance the quality and
capacity of the educational programs. For fiscal 2010, the
Commission recommends that the state initiate a multi-year
plan to reach the level of funding called for in the Independent
College and University Assistance Act.
In November 2007, the Commission adopted Long-Term
Capital Planning and Support Recommendations for New Jersey Higher
Education. For fiscal 2010, we recommend the
state explore finding mechanisms to address the capital needs
of our colleges, including the deferred maintenance needs. More
importantly, the Commission urges the state to undertake comprehensive
planning aimed at focusing on the role of higher education for
the state's residents and economy and recommends that the state
explore, through the Commission, an analysis of the state's existing
higher education programs and facilities to (1) ascertain current
capacity; (2) the need for additional program offerings in areas
of importance to the state's economy and the fulfillment of our
residents' career opportunities; (3) the avoidance of unnecessary
duplication in program capacity among institutions; and (4) long-term,
multi-year funding mechanisms to achieve such results.
We look forward to working with the administration in
the future to develop a statewide capital plan for higher education
and mechanisms to support initial and ongoing investments in
capital construction and renovation.
As the state struggles with
competing demands and fiscal constraints, it remains important
for higher education to continue to find more efficient ways
to provide the best service to students, businesses, and the
state. Colleges have and will continue to look for ways to operate
more efficiently. While the colleges are often seen as having
the option of raising revenue through tuition increases, it is
increasingly clear that future tuition increases will create
insurmountable hurdles for many New Jersey families. In short,
we are pricing more students out of college every year.
The areas for which we have recommended increased state
support do not represent all of higher education's areas of
need, but they are the most critical areas given limited resources
and state needs. It is also important, of course, to strive
to maintain state support levels for programs that serve special
populations in need of targeted services.
Recognizing the direct impact of the structural budget
issues on spending, we again remind you of the critical importance
of our colleges and universities to the economy and urge you
to only make reductions to the higher education budget a last
resort. Colleges will continue to work to operate more efficiently,
and the Commission will do all that it can to support new ways
of cost effective collaboration and the pursuit of external
funding. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward
to working with you during this budget period.
November 21, 2008