New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday announced a budget proposal that would provide New Jersey students with four years of free college at public institutions across the state. This item is just one of the college affordability provisions included in a comprehensive spending plan agreed to by Governor Murphy, Speaker of the Senate Stephen Sweeney and Speaker of the Assembly Craig Coughlin for the Budget. the State’s 2022 fiscal year.
The governor and legislative leaders have developed a comprehensive college affordability program that includes several credits designed to help students from diverse backgrounds qualify for college. The main elements of the plan would be:
Fund the Garden State Guarantee. The proposed budget would cover tuition fees for years three and four of enrollment at one of the state’s four-year public universities for students with a family income of less than $ 65,000. It would also ensure tuition fee reductions that would be phased out on a sliding scale for students with incomes between $ 65,000 and a higher income threshold that would be set by the institutions themselves.
The proposal, which Murphy first described in April this year, builds on the success of existing government programs Community College Opportunity Grant (COCG), which guarantees eligible students a tuition-free education during their first two years at one of the state’s community colleges.
According to a statement from Governor Murphy’s office, the expansion is expected to benefit “tens of thousands” of New Jersey students. The governor’s overall budget, now estimated at a total of $ 46.4 billion, includes $ 50 million for expansion in addition to the funding needed to continue paying for community college tuition.
Create new tax deductions for:
- Contributions of up to $ 10,000 into a New Jersy Better Education Savings Trust (NJBEST) 529 account for households earning up to $ 200,000. The estimated annual cost to the state would be approximately $ 16 million in lost revenue;
- Contributions of up to $ 10,000 towards in-state tuition fees for households earning up to $ 200,000; The expected annual cost would be $ 67 million in lost revenue; and
- Interest and principal payments on New Jersey College loans to help state students up to $ 2,500 per year for households earning up to $ 200,000. The expected shortfall from this provision is $ 4 million.
Match NJBEST contributions for those who need it most. To encourage college savings among low-income residents, New Jersey will also provide $ 10 million in matching payments of up to $ 750 for taxpayers with incomes below $ 75,000 when they contribute to the fund. opening of a new NJBEST 529 College Savings account.
“In our continued effort to build a more resilient post-pandemic future for our state, this budget lays the foundation for a more affordable New Jersey where everyone has the opportunity to thrive from adulthood through retirement,” said stated Governor Murphy in a statement from his office. “We are providing the resources to help parents save to send their children to college, help graduates get a fresh start in life without the overwhelming burden of student loans, and help seniors age in place by securing a most of their hard-earned retirement income. . ”
(The New Jersey Budget Accord also includes a key component that would make retirement more affordable for nearly 70,000 older taxpayers by increasing the amount of retirement income that can be excluded from taxes each year.)
The proposal now goes to the legislator for its official action. New Jersey is in the enviable position of having a $ 10.1 billion surplus from a combination of better-than-expected tax collections and more than $ 6 billion in federal aid funds related to the coronavirus pandemic.
If passed, the higher education provisions would make New Jersey a leader among states in providing affordable universities to low- and middle-income families. And that would give its many public colleges a competitive edge as students make their final decisions about where to attend college in the fall.