Murphy: NJ community colleges could be tuition-free by 2021

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Gov. Phil Murphy has pledged to make New Jersey’s community colleges tuition-free by 2021.

Murphy, in his budget address, said that $50 million of the state’s 2019 budget will go toward tuition support for low-income students. He said that tuition-free colleges will be paid for through an increase in the state sales tax and the creation of a millionaire’s tax.

College students in the United States have nearly $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to Student Debt Hero. Some high school students tell News 12 New Jersey that student loan debt is something that they worry about as they continue their education careers.

“Especially the universities I want to get into are very costly and expensive,” says sophomore Abiram Gangabaram. “Student loan debt in America is a huge problem, so I definitely think about that a lot.”

Educator Ted Tympanick says that he spent 15 years as a social studies teacher at Piscataway High School helping guide stressed-out upperclassmen to the next step.

“I had lots of talks with my students who were juniors and seniors and [debt] was a worry of theirs. Textbooks alone are a huge expense,” he says.

Tympanick says that eliminating tuition costs could help students further their education.

The governor’s critics say that he is planning to overspend and overtax the state. But supporters say that free tuition can help build a stronger workforce and bolster the state’s economy.

Many of the opportunities for people to work in New Jersey require not only associate’s degrees, but bachelor’s, master’s and even doctorates,” says Middlesex County College president Joann La Perla-Morales.

Community colleges are the largest provider of higher education in New Jersey, enrolling more than 325,000 students annually.

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