In my house, discussions about local and state affairs are a daily topic of conversation; especially when the decisions of our government effect higher education. That being said, I cannot take sole credit for this article, as it is a product of recent conversations between my husband and I.
It’s unfortunate that money is the driving force behind so many of our life decisions, as life is so much more than dollars and cents. Speaking of money, Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey recently passed the state budget. In his final budget, his last-minute budget cut effected the funding of several programs, one of which provided $55 million dollars to tuition aid, primarily for low-income students. He also cut funding to law schools that provided legal aid to low-income offenders. Christie’s recent decisions, coupled with Jon Corzine’s previous unwillingness to fund colleges and universities, have further moved higher education out of the grasp of many residents in our state.
One of the reasons that Governor Christie’s latest budget cuts were a bit of a surprise are largely in part of Christie’s admiration for a former New Jersey Governor, Tom Kean. Tom Kean, the man who Christie considers his mentor, is a former university president, and was also recently appointed by Governor Christie to look into the current status of higher education in the State of New Jersey. While most people have heard of some Christie’s big ideas, such as, merging the University of Medicine and Dentistry with Rutgers University, one of his lesser know suggestions was to borrow money to better fund our higher education system (1). Kean’s report for the Governor noted that New Jersey residents are facing some of the highest costs of tuition for public universities in the country, noting that NJ ranks 47 in higher education funding (2). What these recent cuts will due to that ranking is currently unknown.
With these rising costs it is no wonder why NJ residents are beginning to question the enormous price tag of a higher education. A recent national study by Pew Research, in collaboration with The Chronicle of Higher Education, showed that 57% of the Americans asked said that colleges and universities do not provide a good value for their cost (3). Statistics like this have lead to recent articles in the New York Times asking, “Is College Really Worth It?” (4). However, most people still believe that higher education is the pathway to a better life for reasons such as those recorded in a survey by the College Board. This survey found that people with a bachelors degree, on average, earned more than those who simply had a high school diploma, as well as, earned a significantly higher amount of money over the duration of their career (5).
As President Obama calls for an increase in Americans to go to college, the decisions of our current legislators are making it difficult for most to achieve this dream. While budget cuts are a reality in our world today, Governor Christie, as well as local representatives, need to know the significance of these cuts, and the impact that they are having on prospective New Jersey college students.
- http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/about/news_info/cbsenior/yr2007/ed-pays-2007.pdf (page 9)
Michelle L. Brisson