Tweaking Phil Murphy’s College Tuition Plan

From Blue Jersey alum Brian K Everett, who has toiled many years in academia, both as a student and now in his job. Promoted by Rosi (and you’re welcome back anytime, BKE!)

And, not by much, might I add.

Here in New Jersey, we are living at a pivotal time. The state is struggling to recover, still, from the Great Recession, and many aspects of the state’s economy just are not working for most New Jersey residents. What’s my basis for this claim? Just ask a New Jerseyan.

According to, Phil Murphy has unveiled a plan to bring tuition-free community college to New Jersey. He is quoted to say, “We simply do not have the workforce that we need”.

You know who else said a similar thing? Well, many folks. But I’m specifically reminded of the comments made by Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley in a article about New Jersey’s ‘Brain Drain’ problem persisting.

Brain Drain is the ongoing phenomena in the Garden State by which high school graduates are leaving New Jersey to go to college in other states, and the majority of them do not return to the state. Why? Two reasons: Colleges often help students identify career opportunities within the vicinity of the college, and, New Jersey does not have many robust opportunities for debt-ridden college graduates to incentivize  a return to in a lagging state economy with some of the highest property taxes in America.

The Assemblywoman said, “One, we’re losing the workforce; two, we’re losing all of those dollars that go along with that student”.  And she’s right.

And New York is right. The article by points out that New York’s college tuition programs have stipulations which require recipients of free tuition to remain as in-state residents for a certain number of years after graduation, or face their awards being converted into a 10 year, interest-free student loan.

That is what Murphy’s plan needs. It is currently not clear per Murphy’s website if this stipulation will be a part of his plan, so I’m assuming it is not. As a candidate for New Jersey Governor in the year 2017, his plan must attack multiple policy issues at once, including the costs of education, including a lagging economy, including an under-prepared workforce, and our brain drain problem. Many of these issues correlate with each other!

The best part is that this is just a slight tweak that can have huge benefits to the State’s economy. One extra sentence in a bill can go a long way. A strategic policy approach to increase New Jersey’s population? What?!

Also, let’s look at it this way: State university and college employees are required by law to live in-state for economic growth purposes. If we are paying for community college tuition now, shouldn’t the same principle be applied?

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