Educators make their case at N.J. budget session

    Spending at New Jersey’s colleges and universities was front and center before the Assembly Budget Committee Tuesday.

    College officials said they’re pleased the Governor’s proposed budget increases state financial assistance for students.

    Sister Francis Raftery, president of the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, said uncertainty about the amount of federal student aid is still a big concern.

    “It is not only the students from the urban community. We are dealing with the new poor. These are the people who lost their jobs,” she said. “These are the people who had a way of life that they can not continue.”

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    Sister Rosemary Jeffries, the president of Georgian Court University in Lakewood, said salaries and benefits are frozen and capital improvements are being deferred so the university can continue to provide its own financial aid for students.

    Meanwhile, Nicholas Yovnelo, president of the New Jersey State College Locals representing faculty and professional staff, told the committee that capital funding should be carefully targeted.

    “The priority for that capital expense should be to do the deferred maintenance, to look at the technology on the campuses,” he said. “But the capital, if it’s not done right, is going to dig a deeper hole for you to fund because there are buildings that need to be maintained and they need to be staffed.”

    Yovnelo said colleges should also share services and cooperate more on research to maximize their resources.

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