COMMUNITY COLLEGES CRUCIAL, STATE SUPPORT ESSENTIAL – Statement by Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D., President, New Jersey Council of County Colleges
June, 2022, Trenton, NJ – New Jersey’s 18 Community Colleges play an essential role in offering educational and economic opportunity to more than 250,000 New Jerseyans each year including those in our most marginalized and underserved communities. Community Colleges, serving every county of the state, play an outsized role in preparing our state’s skilled and talented workforce in so many vital industries, including health services, manufacturing, technology, and infrastructure. Our state is more prosperous and more equitable as a direct result of the Community Colleges.
State investment, currently totaling $144 million, provides the critical foundation for Community College that enables them to provide a high-quality and affordable education. When Community Colleges were created in New Jersey, the state committed to provide funding for one-third of the Community Colleges’ budget. However, state support to these institutions is only approximately 21% of the total budget of Community Colleges, and current funding to Community Colleges is LESS than the funding provided fifteen years ago, in Fiscal Year 2008.
New Jersey’s Community Colleges join together to urge Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, the entire New Jersey Senate and Assembly delegations, and Governor Murphy to continue their commitment to New Jersey Community Colleges by including as additional $15 million dollars investment in operating aid for Community Colleges in the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Bill.
New Jersey’s 18 Community Colleges are focused on open access, meeting students where they live, and working side-by-side with students to remove barriers to achieving their dreams and goals. And New Jersey’s Community Colleges are working closely with employers and labor unions to expand and build pathways to the essential jobs and careers of the future, from cybersecurity and renewable energy to nursing and patient care and supply chain management. Community Colleges also play a key role bridging high schools, community-based organizations, and four-year colleges and universities.
As we emerge from the pandemic, the affordability of Community Colleges for high-quality education is more important than ever for those who continue to struggle during this time of historic inflation.
Now, more than ever, New Jersey’s future and that of its residents depend on a strong network of Community Colleges. With increased state investment in Community Colleges, a brighter future is possible for New Jersey.
New Jersey’s 18 agile and innovative Community Colleges are prepared to lead in the response to and recovery from this public health and economic crisis and to secure a brighter future for all New Jerseyans. The New Jersey Council of County Colleges provides statewide leadership for the advancement of New Jersey Community Colleges, performs coordinating responsibilities as required by law, and coordinates statewide efforts to build a skilled workforce and improve student success. We encourage you to visit our website at www.njccc.org.