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Murphy outlines $50M for partially free community college

April 5, 2018

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday said he wants $50 million of his proposed budget to go toward making community college tuition-free for some families.

Murphy first announced the proposal in his budget address last month, but added some details Thursday at Mercer County Community College. The Democratic governor says he wants $45 million to go toward a grant program and an additional $5 million to go to the state’s 19 community colleges to help deal with the potentially higher enrollments.

“This plan will help make college a reality for many in our state, a change that will help our best and brightest stay in New Jersey,” he said.

Republicans criticized the plan, saying that the public pays enough in taxes and can’t afford higher costs for programs. Instead, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. said, the state could partner with private industry to help students gain skills.

“What we shouldn’t do, is force overtaxed families to pick up the tab for Governor Murphy’s spending spree,” Kean said.

Murphy’s proposal calls for providing grants to families with income below $45,000. He says it’s the first year of a “multi-year phase-in” aimed at entirely free community college. He acknowledged that entirely tuition-free community college couldn’t happen “overnight because it’s not free.”

The administration estimates that about 15,000 students could be enrolled tuition-free by January.

Roughly a fifth of the state’s 150,000 community college students are enrolled without cost thanks to other grant programs.

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