Educators: Free tuition could help students graduate faster

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Some state educators say that they are in favor of a plan to make tuition free at New Jersey’s 19 community colleges, because they say it could help some students graduate faster.

Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed interest in the plan. He says that tuition costs should not be a burden to New Jersey students and their families.

Middlesex County College president Joann La Perla-Morales says that free tuition could help students enter the workforce sooner than later.

“Some of our students take two, three, four even up to six years to complete their education,” she says.

Student Van Syjongtian emigrated to New Jersey from the Philippines three years ago. She says that she has dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and has had to work at a coffee shop four nights a week to pay for school.

Many other students say that they have had similar experiences.

“Around finals, I was still finishing up the semester and working,” says student Kaila Kopp-Baez. “I managed to get As and Bs. It was a lot but I got it done.”

But critics of the plan say that New Jersey just cannot afford the estimated $200 million cost of offering free tuition.

“It won’t be free because the taxpayers will have more burden placed on them with the proposal,” says state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. “It will become more unaffordable to live in the state of New Jersey.”

Gov. Murphy has not yet laid out any specific plans for free tuition.

Four states in the country already offer free tuition programs to students.

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