Watson Coleman: We Need to be Investing – Not Divesting – in Higher Education

Assemblywoman Questions Impact Governor’s Defunding of Tuition Aid Programs has had on Prospective College Students

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) questioned the impact the Christie administration’s continual defunding of higher education may have on the prospects of college for low and middle income students after the Assembly Budget Committee heard testimony from the Secretary of Higher Education on Wednesday.

“The cuts the Governor has made in TAG (Tuition Aid Grant) and EOF (Educational Opportunity Fund) funding over the last few years worry me on a number of levels, especially when coupled with his cuts in direct aid. Even when funding remains stagnant for a year, or increases minimally as he has proposed for EOF funding this year, it still essentially equates to a decrease because of the continually rising cost of tuition, fees and books.

“We saw the report out this week that 53 percent of college graduates under 25 years old are either un- or under-employed, making it all that much harder to pay off the cost of their education. My fear is that the short-sighted moves that have been made the last few years may eventually price college out of reach for many middle and low income students.

“Given the increasingly competitive nature of the global market and the fact that unemployment in our state is still higher than the national average, we need to be investing – not divesting – in education to provide our students with every advantage possible to succeed,” said Watson Coleman.