Increased funding cuts could make it more challenging for Garden State parents to send their children to college. 

Christopher Furlong, Getty Images

A new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds Garden State families trying to send their son or daughter to college face a perfect storm of declining incomes and cuts in State support for public universities, even as tuition and student fees continue to rise.

The report indicates New Jersey has cut funding for higher education by 27 percent since 2008 when adjusted for inflation, a decrease of more than $2,500 per student. In addition, the report concludes the cuts have driven up tuition and student fees, undermined educational quality and made it harder for the State to attract businesses that rely on a well-educated workforce.

“Despite the prevailing mythology that tax rates are the major factor in business location decisions, the evidence is overwhelming that it is the quality of the workforce that is most important. Nothing better measures workforce quality than educational levels, which is one of New Jersey’s greatest, but largely ignored, assets,” said the President of New Jersey Policy Perspective Gordon MacInnes.

Because of this, he says one would expect that New Jersey would invest first in higher education “instead of leaving it at the back of the line.”

MacInnes adds the combination of these factors is likely to produce even greater expenses and rising student loan debt, even as students grapple with closed courses and delayed graduations.

To reverse these trends, he recommends the State re-introduce higher education as a central topic of public conversation, and support increased spending to make sure higher education is affordable for New Jersey students.