NJ Community Colleges Surviving, Thanks to Enrollment Spike [AUDIO]
Community colleges across the country have cut programs and downsized services in the recent years, but in New Jersey, the situation has not been so tragic. The Garden State's community colleges have been preparing for the time they would need to "do more with less."
Jacob Farbman, Director of Communications for the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, said there has been a drop in public funding, but at the same time, there has been tremendous growth in enrollment.
"Over the last five years, we've seen a 33% jump in the number of students who come to our colleges full-time," Farbman explained.
On average, student tuition and fees make up more than 60% of a New Jersey community college's operating budget.
The average one-year tuition for a full-time student is approximately $3,100. Farbman said that is "still a bargain compared to everything else that's out there."
He continued, "We have done our best to hold the line on increasing tuition because most students come because they can't afford to go anywhere else.
In 2010, the state's 19 community colleges came together to form a solution to get around the "new normal" - remaining sustainable for future generations of students, while relying less on public sources.
Still in development is the Big Ideas Project, a series of eight strategic goals to improve college performance and student success. The goals include improved developmental education, empowering adjunct instructors and increased collective purchasing power.
Farbman said, "We knew that we were going to be in this 'new normal' for some time to come, so we're addressing it proactively at the statewide level in a statewide way, as a team of 19 community colleges."