On Thursday, the Senate Higher Education Committee heard testimony regarding the impact COVID-19 continues to have on New Jersey’s higher education institutions.
State leaders including Dr. Jonathan Holloway, president of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Dr. Ali Houshmand, president of Rowan University, and Dr. Joseph Marbach, president of Georgian Court University and others testified during the hearing.
Significant reductions in tuition-related income, housing, and dining, combined with the cost of increased sanitation and PPE continue to cause major financial strain for the state’s higher education institutions.
While the institutions have previously received state and federal financial assistance to help offset some COVID-19 related losses, their shortfalls in revenue continue to be far greater than the aid received.
The prolonged financial hardship caused by COVID-19 continues to force employee pay cuts, voluntary and involuntary furloughs, and hiring freezes.
The quality of the student experience due to predominantly online learning, personal and family financial issues for students, mental health and anxiety were also major topics of conversation during the hearing.
In addition, an emphasis was placed on minority students, particularly low income and first generation, who were among those most severely affected due to decreased opportunity to access adequate technology, internet, and/or environments conducive to learning.