N.J. Dems push back on Christie plan to cut help for low-income college students

 Lawmakers and advocates say increasing funding for the program will help low income students get the services they need to complete their college education. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Lawmakers and advocates say increasing funding for the program will help low income students get the services they need to complete their college education. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Majority Democrats in New Jersey’s Senate want more money in the state budget for a program offering financial aid and support services tor thousands of low-income college students.

Governor Christie’s budget plan calls for a $3.5 million cut for the Educational Opportunity Fund. Democrats want to restore that and add another $1.5 million.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says funding for that program is a crucial part of the state budget.

“Education leads to a better life. Education leads to better choices. And we want to make sure that everyone has that opportunity and they’re not in a situation where they can’t afford it.”

Alex Delgado is president of the EOF professional association of New Jersey.He says the support services that program funds help students make it to graduation.

“It’s one thing to get access to college but if you don’t have the support to navigate those processes that occur in higher education, then we will lose them and they will drop out.”Rafiatu Nawuridam is a Junior at the College of New Jersey. She says the program has been a big help.

“The support system I get from EOF is like no other. The office is like a one-stop place for everything. I go there when I have family problems. I go there when I need help editing essays. I go there when I need help applying for internships to get my resume checked out.”

David Hughes is president of the Rutgers faculty union. He’s hoping there will even more money for the program in the future.

“EOF enfranchises and empowers a citizenry in a democracy. This is what we need. EOF is about democracy, it’s about equality, and it’s about economic development, and I want to see it get much larger. I want to see us back here in a year talking about a program that’s twice as large.”

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