Higher Education Should Be Accessible To All

Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy proposed a state budget that includes money set aside to make community college free for New Jersey residents. I’m overjoyed the governor is interested in doing this.

The more educated our population is, the better it is for all of us. It makes democracy work better and it makes our economy work better. I don’t think everyone understands that.

Murphy has set aside $50 million in his proposed budget for community college. He plans to set aside $45 million to pay for community college tuition for families with household incomes below $45,000 a year. The remaining $5 million would go to the 19 community colleges in the state, which would help them handle additional students.

The governor estimates 15,000 students could attend community college tuition free by January. Ramp-up to make tuition free at community colleges for all New Jersey residents, regardless of income level, would take three years, according to Murphy.

There’s no reason people should be held up from continuing their education because of money. That’s not what’s important to our society. Education is what’s important.

The plan will no doubt face opposition from those who want to preserve their position and think elitism is good for us. My hope is the proposal will prevail and members of the New Jersey Legislature will include Murphy’s plan in the state budget they send to his desk by June 30. That way more of New Jersey’s young people have the ability to continue their education.

Colleges at all levels are getting more expensive, including community colleges. If changes aren’t made, people’s salaries will be worth less and less. It’s hard for society to advance if people are spending all of their money educating their children.

I congratulate Murphy on becoming the 56th governor of New Jersey and for putting forth this progressive plan to provide universal access to higher education.

While his proposal is a good beginning, it shouldn’t be the end of the conversation. Hopefully there can be a similar program for four-year colleges.

Our goal as a nation has to be to create a more just society and education for our children is a good step in the right direction.

by Monsignor William J. Linder 
May 2018

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