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Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed Fiscal Year 2025 State Budget drastically reduces critical state investment in New Jersey’s community colleges by $20 million, which could potentially lead to program cuts, tuition increases and reduced staffing, education officials said. 

“This proposed 12% reduction in state investment significantly undermines the critical work of community colleges to build an equitable, innovative, and prosperous New Jersey,” said Aaron Fichtner, Ph.D., president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC). 

“We now call on the State Legislature to restore the vital resources we need to serve our students, employers, and communities,” Fichtner said. 

The proposed funding cut jeopardizes the operation of New Jersey’s 18 community colleges—which serve over 230,000 residents and power key industries of the state’s economy, he noted. 

Fichtner said that unless funding is restored, community colleges, which typically serve the most economically vulnerable students, will be forced to make difficult decisions, including raising tuition, cutting programs and student supports, and reducing staffing. 

New Jersey’s community colleges rank near the bottom of the nation for state funding. The governor’s FY25 budget proposal strips out the same $20 million the community colleges received last year with the help of the Legislature in the FY 2024 state budget. That increase, while important, still left county colleges far behind their counterparts in other states and well behind where they should be if funding had kept pace with inflation, Fichtner said.  

In a statement released after the Governor’s Budget Address on Tuesday, the NJCCC said: 

“As our newly released Opportunity Agenda makes clear, at this moment when New Jersey is facing rapid and complex economic, technological, social, and climate changes, New Jersey’s 18 community colleges need expanded resources, not cuts to operating aid. 

“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 Legislature is now tasked with reviewing and passing the next state budget, which must be signed by the governor by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.