Higher-education: A call for dedicated funding and partnership among institutions

TRENTON – The need for dedicated funding for higher education, and the problems of high student debt were among topics Tuesday at a higher education roundtable here.

College presidents and other higher education representatives participated in a roundtable discussion before the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, discussing the challenges they face and possible solutions.

Dan O’Connor, a Rutgers Universisty professor who represents an association representing college professors, said the colleges need to form partnerships to achieve the “common goal” of providing quality education to the students.

Nicholas Yovnello of the New Jersey Council of Colleges said the colleges could receive more grants from various sources if colleges get into a partnership. He called for the state to set up a “dedicated fund” on higher education, similar to the transportation capital fund.

A student representative for Rutgers University, Donggu Yoon, said the amount of debt college students have is growing, and in some cases, exceeds credit card debt.

He said the average debt at Rutgers University is $20,000 per student.

He added that some students received thousands of dollars less in Tuition Aid Grants than they were told they were going to get via notifications. Because many of them depended on the assistance, with some receiving $2,000 to $4,000 less than expected, they weren’t able to register for classes.

“That was very troubling and concerning,” he said.

Some others who should receive aid don’t receive it, though. A single parent earning $29,000 would not qualify to receive financial aid, according to Steve Rose of Passaic County College.