N.J. Gov. Murphy pledges to make higher education more accessible, affordable

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (Noah K. Murray/AP Photo)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (Noah K. Murray/AP Photo)

Gov. Phil Murphy wants to make higher education in the Garden State more accessible and affordable.

Announcing his statewide plan for higher education Tuesday, which he said the state has lacked for years, Murphy emphasized the need among students for work experience.

“A big part of our economic mission is to deepen higher education into the real economy, in particular with young people,” Murphy said at Rutgers-Newark on Tuesday.

Zakiya Smith Ellis, the state Secretary of Higher Education, said the plan aims to bolster workforce development and apprenticeship programs as well as support traditional four-year colleges and universities.

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“How do we ensure that the girl who’s coding in downtown Paterson or the budding scientist from Cape May both understand that the pathways to an apprenticeship or a degree are not mutually exclusive?” she said.

Murphy’s proposed budget includes $35 million available to colleges and universities that sign onto the plan to defray the costs of implementing it.

The plan also calls on institutions of higher education to present more predictable costs to students, including tuition and fees, though neither Murphy or Smith Ellis said whether that would mean tuition freezes.

Murphy has also vowed to make community college free in New Jersey.

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