How Christie’s budget would cut direct aid to colleges
Gov. Christie’s proposed budget includes cuts to direct operating costs to the public four-year colleges and universities, in large part due to increases in income deductions for employee benefits.
Gov. Christie's proposed budget includes cuts to direct operating costs to the public four-year colleges and universities, in large part due to increases in income deductions for employee benefits.
A budget summary released last month indicated that Rutgers University would see a 3.73 percent decline in direct state aid. New Jersey Institute of Technology would see a 5.98 percent cut. The other four-year schools would see a combined decline of 7.07 percent.
Those cuts to direct operating support are meant to accomodate increases to benefits for state employees, including health care and pension costs, the state said.
The full budget proposal has since been released, including details on how much each institution would receive.
Rutgers' New Brunswick campus would see its funding decline 4.42 percent. Its other two campuses would see small declines of just more than 0.5 percent from the 2015 fiscal year to the 2016 fiscal year.
By percentage, the biggest decreases will hit Thomas Edison State College (14.28 percent), Stockton University (11.04 percent), New Jersey City University (9.43 percent), and Ramapo College (9.25 percent).
Schools will receive the same amount of "institutional support" — or even a slightly greater amount — but that is undercut by increases in income deductions. The bulk of those deductions appears to be for employee fringe benefits.
Rowan University, for example, is slated to receive $490,815,000 in total institutional support from the state — the same as in the current year.
But income deductions increase to $405,432,000, from $402,023,000, meaning its actual total state appropriation will decline 3.84 percent to $85,383,000, from $88,792,000. It had requested $99,464,000.
The state supports colleges and universities by providing both direct operating support and paying employee fringe benefits. This year, the governor's budget message notes, "aid … is continued at fiscal 2015 levels, reflecting a reduction in operating aid to accommodate the increasing cost of State-funded fringe benefits."
Budget hearings are ongoing, before the Legislature passes a budget and returns it to Christie by the end of June.
The proposed 2016 funding level for each school is listed below, alongside the 2015 level and the amount and percentage of the decline those funding levels would constitute. The information comes from page D-290 of the budget proposal; further details per institution are on the pages following.