STATE OF NEW JERSEY - Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. and Senator Sandra Cunningham to create criteria to determine how state tax dollars are allotted to colleges and universities throughout New Jersey was advanced today by the Higher Education Committee.

“A Commission has long been needed to study and determine an accountable, consistent and equitable measure for how billions of dollars in public funding is annually provided to colleges and universities,” said Kean (R-Union). “New Jersey’s overtaxed residents cannot afford to pay for any arbitrary state spending. We need to continuously examine every dollar spent to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most for their money.”

“For too long there has been no consistent method for determining the amount of aid the state provides to support the operating costs of our higher education institutions,” said Cunningham (D-Hudson). “As a result, we have seen significant disparities in the funding at state colleges and universities each year. Students who attend institutions who get shortchanged by the state are then forced to make up the difference through higher tuition and fees.”

The Senators noted that state aid was once provided to colleges and universities in New Jersey based on enrollment, but in late 2010 the Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education reported that there has been a lack of rationale to determine state aid allotments to colleges throughout the past few decades.

Their bill, S731, establishes the New Jersey Higher Education Funding Formula Commission to examine higher education funding formulas in other states, including a thorough review of performance-based funding formulas, and identify best practices; solicit and review detailed information from all of the State’s institutions of higher education on their funding needs, programs and operations, and outputs; and develop a report that includes a higher education funding formula for the State support of institutions of higher education. Last year, colleges and universities around New Jersey were provided with a total of $1.65 billion in state tax dollars.