There’s good news for community colleges in the state budget, Ocean County College President Jon Larson noted in his latest report to the OCC Board of Trustees. The July 28 report follows a briefing on the fiscal year 2023 Higher Education Appropriations Act held earlier in the month.
The spending plan, Larson was happy to note, includes a $10 million increase in operating assistance for NJ community colleges. He explained, “This is…the first such increase in 13 years and will support the community college’s commitment to expanding access to higher education, closing equity gaps, increase adult learning opportunities and increase student success. The state’s investment in community colleges, which will total $144 million in fiscal year 2023, provides critical and foundational support to New Jersey’s 18 community colleges and supports colleges’ efforts to provide affordable education and high quality.
As Larson also pointed out, the Community College Opportunity Grant program, “enshrined in state law last year, currently helps thousands of people in households with less than $85,000 (on a decreasing scale) adjusted gross income to attend free community college.The state budget will ensure that New Jerseyans of all ages have the opportunity to earn a college degree or diploma.
“The COCG program, when connected to the newly funded Garden State Guarantee program, will provide community college students with the opportunity to earn associate’s and bachelor’s degrees tuition-free.”
Meanwhile, Larson said, the budget includes “investments that will help create a more vibrant and responsive education and workforce readiness ecosystem, and serve to leverage and strengthen other investments.” state and federal benefits that all New Jersey residents will benefit from.”
The President highlighted a $3 million investment in basic skills for existing workers through the Flexible Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Training Program.
The budget, he added, also includes an investment of $8.5 million for community colleges, the business community, high schools, four-year colleges and universities and other partners to work together. to meet the workforce needs of employers by designing industry-valued credentials connected to degree programs that provide educational and career paths for New Jersey students and workers so that they can earn a living wage and have economic mobility. —JK-H.