150 West State Street. Trenton NJ 08608 -- 609-989-1100 office

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Association Staff

Barbara Berreski, JD, MS

Chief Executive Officer

Director, Government & Legal Affairs



Patricia S. Berry

Chief Operating Officer


Pamela J. Hersh

Communications & Public Affairs


Support Staff

Charlene R. Pipher

Executive Assistant/Web Design


Terry Toth

Part-Time Secretarial Assistant


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New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities

150 West State Street

Trenton, New Jersey 08608

609-989-1100 office

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NJASCU Response to the Governor’s Budget Address
March 19, 2018

NJASCU’s Response to FY 2019 Budget Proposal
  • First and foremost, we very much look forward to working with the Governor and his new administration, and we remain hopeful that, together, we will address the difficult issues and build a higher education infrastructure in this state that assures opportunity and prosperity for its citizens.
  • Regarding the specifics of the Governor’s budget proposal, we are disappointed that the tens of thousands of students attending the state's senior public colleges and universities were entirely left out of the plan and that the urgent issues related to state operating support for these institutions remained, yet again, unaddressed. There was also no reference to addressing the all-important capital needs of the institutions.
  • We believe the key to achieving that mission of providing affordable, accessible, and high-quality education is a student-centric approach by having the financial aid follow the student irrespective of where he or she chooses to attend college. Therefore, we also were disappointed that there was no recognition given to the very urgent need to reform the TAG program if we are really going to address the issue of college affordability in New Jersey.
  • We were pleased to see at least a modest increase for the EOF program, which has been a very important and successful program for students with exceptionally challenging socio-economic circumstances and a wonderful example of a student-centric approach to higher education support.
  • In the budget address, Governor Murphy kept referring to the $50 million in support for community colleges as the first step towards achieving free community college. We are concerned about the Free Tuition program for community colleges primarily because, as presented, it is not embedded within an overall plan for public higher education in the state.

Editorial Urges Politicians to Support Higher Education – it’s a Winning Issue

 March 19, 2018

 NY Times Editorial Says Higher Education is Important and Finds Flaws in Polls Expressing Negative Opinions about Higher Education


March 19, 2018

We’re supposed to be living in a time of education skepticism. The media regularly run stories suggesting education is overrated. K-12 schools are said to be in a never-ending crisis, and college debt has become a new crisis. A much-discussed Pew Research Center poll recently found a jump in the number of people saying colleges had a negative effect on the country.

In truth, though, Americans’ attitudes toward education are much simpler than all of this noise suggests — just as that Alabama ad test found. Whatever complaints people may have about their local school or college costs, most have no doubt that their children need a good education. People see it as the most reliable path to a good life, and they are right.  Read full alert.

NJASCU Rasies Concerns about Free College Concept as Touted by the Governor's Budget Proposal
March 15, 2018

To summarize:

  • Governor Phil Murphy’s first state budget proposal of $37.4 billion calls for just what he promised he’d do — raise taxes; increase funding for education, pensions and mass transit; legalize marijuana; and make smaller adjustments that meet with his progressive agenda. He calls the budget “realistic and responsible” with a projected surplus of $742 million. Other than taxing the “sharing economy,” Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, and restoring the 7 percent sales tax from 6.625 percent, the plan held few surprises. What may turn out to be surprising is what his fellow Democrats will do with the plan, as their initial response appeared to be lukewarm. And the Republican response has been one of vehement opposition.
  • Gov. Murphy predicted the state could see a $765 million boost from his proposed 10.75 percent millionaires tax. Other proposals include an estimated $60 million in additional excise and sales tax revenue to be collected from the sale of legalized marijuana. The money would be used to help war veterans in the state.
  • He also vowed that school districts will get $283 million in new funding and reallocation of funds, with $57 million for districts seeking to expand their pre-K programs. 
  • The governor reiterated his intent to make community colleges tuition free.
Read full analysis  here.

Affordability and Accessibility at NJASCU Institutions and the Concept of “Free” College
March 7, 2018

  • Providing affordable, accessible, and high-quality education is the mission of New Jersey’s senior public colleges and universities.
  • We believe the key to achieving that mission is a student-centric approach by having the financial aid money follow the student irrespective of where he or she chooses to go to school. We need to create a Student Financial Aid (SFA) program that features financial aid going directly to the student, instead of the current Tuition Aid Grant (TAG), which is based upon the institution and sector of New Jersey higher education he or she attends. The New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) epitomizes this philosophy and has produced some of New Jersey’s greatest government and business leaders in spite of coming from exceptionally challenging socio-economic circumstances.
  • Free college tuition programs (two-year or four-year) share common fiscal, political, and policy-related shortcomings.
    • For example, even if tuition is free, students must still find a way to pay for living expenses, transportation, books, supplies and other ancillary expenses like childcare. These other fiscal challenges may thwart a student’s ability to achieve academic success.
    • Subsidizing all students is an inefficient use of government funding. Providing free tuition for all students, regardless of ability to pay, will divert financial support from economically disadvantaged students to those who are capable of paying all or a portion of their tuition.
    • Also, several of the four-year public universities – including New Jersey City University – have come up with free-tuition strategies for those students who meet family income levels of $60,000 or less.
The public colleges and universities would be in a much better position to keep tuition and fees as low as possible if the state would do the following:

  • Address declining funding of the state colleges and universities - over the past 25 years (FY 1991-FY2016) appropriations per FTE decreased by 40 percent at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities and at the same time FTE enrollment increased from 164,366 to 268,296 students. 
    • Increase in operating support to all public institutions. Operating support should be increased and a rational basis for higher education appropriations should be developed and implemented. 
    • Reform the burdensome State College Contracts Law (SCCL) to enable the state colleges and universities to operate under the same regulations as the research institutions. The SCCL requirements cost the state colleges and universities time and money in procurement and construction. 
    • Provide a consistent annual capital funding appropriation also would help institutions reduce student fees and provide state-of-the-art facilities that our students and faculty deserve and need to succeed. 

DACA Still Unresolved and Challenges in Decision Making Continue
March 5, 2018

DACA Lives, but for How Long?

Monday, March 5, was supposed to be a last-ditch deadline for Congress to act if it wanted to keep the protections provided by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place. Two nationwide court injunctions blocking the Trump administration from ending DACA are temporarily keeping much of the program alive. With no legislative solution in sight, uncertainty prevails. The long-term prospects for the hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who have benefited from the program still remain in limbo.

To recap: DACA, established by former president Obama in 2012, offers temporary protection against deportation and also provides work authorization to a subset of young undocumented immigrants, including many current or former college students, who were brought to the U.S. as children. In September, the Trump administration announced plans to gradually end the program, arguing that the establishment of DACA represented an unconstitutional overreach of Obama’s executive power, a conclusion many legal scholars disagree with.

While it would not terminate existing grants of DACA status, which is valid for two years, the Trump administration said in September it would not accept renewal requests for individuals whose benefits were set to expire after March 5 -- today -- meaning that an ever-increasing number of DACA recipients would start to lose their protections and work authorization as early as tomorrow. Trump at the time said that Congress had six months to act to, in his words, “legalize DACA.”

It has not yet done so. Democrats in Congress forced two brief government shutdowns over the issue, but Congress subsequently passed a two-year budget bill that included many Democratic priorities, but no solution on Dreamers. The Senate subsequently voted on three different bills to codify protections for Dreamers. All of the bills failed.

President Trump’s own stance has also shifted. After initially indicating that he would sign whatever bill Congress brought him, Trump began to insist that legislation to protect Dreamers include concessions anathema to many Democrats in Congress, those being: $25 billion for a southern border wall, the elimination of the diversity visa lottery program and new restrictions on family-based immigration.

All of that brings us to today and the question of what colleges can do to assist students with DACA status during this prolonged period of uncertainty. Many college presidents and higher education groups have been active in lobbying for a path to permanent residency or citizenship for these students, and concerns about the possible deportations of Dreamers in the months immediately following Trump's election spurred many colleges to declare themselves "sanctuary campuses" or otherwise articulate commitments that they or their police forces would not voluntarily cooperate with immigration enforcement (while leaving open the possibility that they could be compelled to do so).

The Higher Education Governance Issue in NJ Should Be a Non-Issue
March 2, 2018

NJASCU was asked to comment for the below article that appeared in the PoliticoPro subscription-only online media source. In addition to the NJASCU quotes that made it into the story, NJASCU would like to add the following:
The governance issue in New Jersey is long-standing, going back to the demise of the Department of Higher Education in 1994. Many are predisposed to the notion that a more powerful office would make college more affordable and outcomes more productive. Yet, the proponents of the alleged good old days of a chancellor and department of higher education never present evidence of the benefits of a chancellor system, never provide comparative national data to indicate how governance affects college outcomes and accountability. Evidence provided by outside national experts at some of the nation's top think tanks, such as NCHEMS National Center for Higher Education Management Systems tend to dispel this view point, because it is a POLITICAL perspective, not one based on objective analysis. NJASCU institution presidents, speaking at the NJASCU Symposium on Higher Education in October 2017, all voiced opposition to reverting to a chancellor system of governance. They claim their schools have thrived under a system of more independence and autonomy. Dr. Harvey Kesselman, president of Stockton University, said “the public institutions all demonstrated how – without the chancellor system and with autonomy – they have thrived. Data show that the senior four-year public colleges and universities are strong, provide high quality education, are accessible, serve a very diverse population, and are an economic engine for their respective regions of the state. They have kept tuition and fees down in spite of drastically reduced state operating support.”  Read more.

DACA Update – Supreme Court Decision
February 27, 2018

On Monday, February 26, 2018, the Supreme Court denied the Administration’s request for expedited review of a federal district court’s injunction against the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.

The ruling does not address the merits of the Administration’s arguments, but leaves in place the lower court’s injunction that requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue processing DACA renewals pending appellate review before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In its two-sentence ruling, the Court indicated that it assumes that “the Court of Appeals will proceed expeditiously to decide this case.”

The action provides current DACA recipients with a temporary – and probably brief – reprieve beyond the fast-approaching March 5 termination date set by the President last year, and allows them to renew their status at least until the full adjudication of the issue.

Following the lead of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, NJASCU urges the Congressional leadership and the White House to move as quickly as possible to craft a fair and permanent legislative solution to end the unsustainable predicament of the Dreamers and thus render the litigation in question moot. Campuses are encouraged to communicate the need for a DACA solution with their Congressional delegations.

In the interim, NJASCU encourages DACA participants to renew their status while the program is still in court-ordered operation.

NJASCU Opposes Re-establishing the Position of Chancellor of Higher Education

February 26, 2018

With the new governor and new personnel leading higher education policy in New Jersey, questions have been raised about the wisdom or folly of reinstating the position of the Chancellor of Higher Education and returning to higher education governance under a Department of Higher Education. NJASCU presidents at the NJASCU Symposium on Higher Education (October 26, 2017) weighed in unequivocally against such a change.

Transition Report – Science and Technology

 February 15, 2018


In the Technology Transition Report just presented to Governor Murphy:  NJ Technology Transition Report to Governor Murphy there are elements relating to higher education:


Ø  Priority:  Strengthen links between our universities and innovative sectors

o   Publicize our universities’ intellectual property assets and assist with their commercial distribution.

o   Create an innovation competition for faculty and students to generate solutions to statewide problems.


Ø  Priority:  Attract and retain high-tech talent and investment in New Jersey

o   Create a fellowship program to boost New Jersey’s government technology and attract talented professionals to work in state government.

o   Establish a STEM-specific student-loan forgiveness program.

o   Encourage all public schools to expand computer science programs.


NJASCU Response:


The senior four-year public schools that NJASCU represents have been focused on the priorities of the Technology Transition report for a number of years and look forward to working with the governor and the legislature to enhance those efforts.  Many of our schools used the Building Our Future higher education bond money to build much needed state-of-the-art STEM facilities.  But the 2012 bond program was the first one for higher education in 25 years.  And successful STEM programs require operating support as well – and, the operating support to public institutions have decreased significantly over the past 25 years (40 percent decrease per FTE).  In order to continue to offer cutting-edge STEM initiatives, public higher education institutions need consistent operational and capital funding support – and that requires a rational and comprehensive approach to appropriations.

NJASCU Comments on the Report of the Education, Access, and Opportunity Transition Advisory Committee

February 9, 2018

NJASCU responds to some of the points made by the NJ Governor’s Transition Report on Education - “Report of the Education, Access, and Opportunity Transition Advisory Committee” – with: praise for some of the suggestions; questions about other priorities; and suggestions for priorities not included.

NJCU School Psychology Program Gains International Accreditation
February 6, 2018

The NJCU School Psychology program was awarded accreditation by the International School Psychology Association (ISPA) recently at its annual meeting in Manchester, England. The NJCU program is now one of only five programs in the US that has achieved international recognition. The School Psychology program at NJCU is based on the idea practice should honor diversity and flow from the familial, cultural and linguistic environment of each student. ISPA accreditation board cited the program’s commitment to establishing cultural competence in its graduates and the overall excellence of coursework. The NJCU accreditation team was led by Dr. Frank Nascimento, Assistant Professor of Psychology.

Update on DACA (February 5, 2018)

The federal government shutdown ended on January 22, 2018, with a short-term, bipartisan Senate deal to extend federal funding through February 8 and a commitment by the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring an immigration bill regarding DACA to the Senate floor within that same time period.  

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) President Dr. Mildred Garcia penned an opinion piece on DACA.  She urged lawmakers to deal with DACA - an issue on which most members of Congress and more than 80 percent of the American public - actually agree.  February 8, 2018 is almost here and the next government shutdown is looming.  Some in Congress are working on a bi-partisan bill.  Dr. Garcia's op-ed presents a compelling argument for going forward.

* * * * * * * *

The propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory has become an unfortunate feature of contemporary American politics. Nowhere is this tendency more apparent than in the political debate about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. This month, however, Congress and President Trump have an opportunity to reverse that pattern – to fix DACA, once and for all, and to move on to other pressing challenges. We urge that they do so.

Nearly 800,000 individuals across America now have temporary protection from deportation through DACA. Ninety-seven percent of these "Dreamers," as they are aptly known, are either in school or employed. One-fifth are enrolled in college. Another third are in high school and considering their options for postsecondary education and training. Five percent of DACA students have already completed their bachelor's degree.

Brought to this country as children, Dreamers are not culpable for their undocumented status. They have grown up and attended school in America as the only home many of them have known. The vast majority have little connection to where their parents came from. Rather than make them continue to live in fear and uncertainty, we have a moral obligation to enable them to continue to pursue the American Dream. That moral obligation happens to coincide with our national self-interest: These are young people who love this country and are hopeful to contribute to it as eagerly as anyone else.

The debate about DACA drags on despite overwhelming agreement on the substance of the issue. The American public strongly supports a legislative fix. A Fox News poll in September 2017 found that 83 percent of Americans support some pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found more than four-fifths of adults – 86 percent – support allowing DACA participants to stay in the United States if they had arrived as a child, had completed high school or served in the military and had not committed a serious crime.


 invented by Teads

This national consensus is also reflected in strong bipartisan support for DACA. Even when President Trump announced the termination of the program this past September, he provided a window for Congress to legislate on the matter and made additional comments in support of favorable congressional action. Almost immediately, various bipartisan groups of lawmakers introduced legislation to do just that. In a recent meeting with congressional leaders, the president signaled his interest in finding a legislative compromise to the DACA conundrum. As recently as this past weekend, the president said that he is "ready and willing to make a deal" on DACA.

And yet, the obvious solution for DACA – costing no additional money and causing no partisan rift – remains elusive. If our politics can't handle a subject as substantively uncontroversial as DACA, how can it navigate the many challenges actually dividing policymakers? In higher education alone, we face uncertainties around the implementation of the new tax law, a higher education reauthorization, regulatory and administrative actions and a stalemate on the federal budget. In contrast to the disagreement we might expect on those and other issues, most people agree that we can and should solve DACA. Why, then, can't policymakers quickly dispense with the debate, take a vote on DACA and achieve victory?

Student-Athletes Attending New Jersey's Colleges and Universities Stand to Lose - Again - if Sports Gambling is Legalized in Our State.  NJASCU Executive Director Michael Klein submitted a letter-to-the-editor of The New York Times in response to a story about the legalization of sports betting.  (December 26, 2017)

S-2552 – Authorizes reciprocal agreements with other states for academic credit transfer and directs public institutions of higher education to enter into such agreements.  Senate Higher Education Committee on December 11, 2017, voted to move forward with the proposal.

The state colleges and universities strongly agree with the intent of this legislation to help students earn their degrees by preventing the loss of already earned credits and valuable time through transfer and articulation policies. But we find no examples of interstate articulation and transfer agreements – thus making implementation of such legislation problematic. Read NJASCU Alert. (December 11, 2017)

New House and Senate Tax Bills Would Affect College Students, Families


Tax bills passed by the House and Senate in Congress would have major implications for universities and students if signed into law, college officials say, including reducing or eliminating some popular tax deductions and taxing tuition waivers for graduate assistants.  Other provisions would reduce incentives for charitable giving, which could make people less likely to donate to nonprofit university foundations.  Both bills have passed their respective house of Congress and must be negotiated before a final bill is sent to President Donald Trump. (December 7, 2017)

Senate Bill No. 3097 - Food Insecurity, for consideration by the Senate Higher Education Committee, Thursday, November 30, 2017; S-3097 allows students to voluntarily donate unused meal funds to be distributed to the NJ Federation of Food Banks.

NJASCU has some serious concerns about the implementation and effectiveness of this bill.  We very much appreciate the Senator's concern regarding food insecurity on campus, but unfortunately this bill will have unintended consequences.  Read advocacy alert here. (November 29, 2017)

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