NJ Community Colleges Distressed Over Proposed $20M Cut in State Funding

The proposed 2025 state budget in New Jersey has called for a $20 million decrease in funding for all community colleges. On Mar. 19, the state Senate held a public budget hearing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, where the possible implications of this budget cut were discussed.

Bergen Community College, which is the largest community college in the state, would be especially impacted, with a proposed $1.8 million cut to funding. During the hearing, Bergen Community College President Eric Friedman and Bergen County Executive James Tedesco both spoke in support of the colleges, advocating for the cancellation of the cut to funding.

The cut to funding for these schools would likely hurt the students attending them, with a raise in tuition being the most probable way to combat this decrease in funds. For many students, community college is the cheapest and most efficient way to earn a degree, but an increase in their tuition could complicate that. 

“This cut will most likely force BCC and others across the state to raise tuition, negatively impacting our students, who sometimes already have to choose between paying for dinner or paying for a textbook,” said Tedesco. 

The 18 community colleges across the Garden State provide over 230,000 students with an education, all of whom come from different backgrounds, both culturally and economically. An increase in tuition could very well force many students to stop pursuing higher education out of a need to provide for themselves and their families.

Even before the proposed cuts, New Jersey ranked towards the bottom in funding for community colleges across the United States. Last year, the Fiscal Year 2024 budget saw an increase in funding for community colleges in the Garden State, from $149 million to $169 million. The Fiscal Year 2025 budget calls for an erasure of the $20 million given last year, or a 12% cut.

“Our colleges have a plan to address equity and economic prosperity, including helping all high school students get on a path to postsecondary and career success, helping our employers thrive in the global digital economy, and helping working learners, unemployed and underemployed adults, student parents, justice-impacted individuals, individual with disabilities, immigrants and refugees achieve lifelong academic and career mobility. New Jersey’s community colleges do this work with a relentless commitment to equity, accountability, and results—but our work requires adequate state funding, not budget cuts”, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges said in a statement on Feb. 27.

Education leaders have made it clear that this cut discredits the work that these schools put into improving the communities in which they are located. The cuts will most likely not just alter tuition, but could also lead to programs within the school being shut down and an increase in the average class size.