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Johnson Questions Christie’s Proposed Funding Cut for Higher Education Assistance for Disadvantaged Students

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) on Wednesday questioned the Christie administration’s decision to cut funding for higher education assistance for disadvantaged students in the proposed FY 2016 budget during a hearing before the Assembly Budget Committee at the Statehouse in Trenton.

Gov. Christie has proposed cutting Educational Opportunity Funding (EOF) by $1.6 million, or 3.9 percent, for the FY 2016 budget. New Jersey’s EOF program was created by law in 1968 to ensure meaningful access to higher education for those who come from disadvantaged economic and educational backgrounds by providing supplemental financial aid to help cover college costs, as well as a wide-array of campus-based support services.

“New Jersey’s higher education system is teetering on the brink of crisis. With tuition rates and mandatory fees soaring, student loan debt burdens are on the rise. There are enormous disparities among success rates and the number of ‘down and out’ students – those with student loan debt and no degree – continues to increase.

“During previous hearings, we heard testimony from students who said they could not have made it to college or succeeded without the invaluable counseling, tutoring and career support offered through the Educational Opportunity Fund.

“Given all these factors, it’s puzzling that the Christie administration would propose scaling back funding for this program at a time when we should be doing all we can to make college more affordable and accessible. This small investment on the part of the state can pay a lifetime of dividends for aspiring students. Much like last year, the legislature needs to fight to ensure that funding for this program is not decreased,” said Johnson.