Around 8 .pm. on Tuesday night, Democratic nominee Phil Murphy won the New Jersey governor’s election. If his campaign promises are enacted, great changes will be made for our state. College students have gained a governor who values our education and future. Murphy has promised lower college tuition and state-based refinancing for student loans at lower rates, which means that we take out another loan from the state to replace our school loans with lower interest rates. Dreamers, undocumented people under Deferred Actions of Childhood Arrivals (DACA), are promised more financial aid options. Murphy also promised to provide in-state financial aid to Dreamers among other benefits.
Whether we are still attending college or not, Murphy’s changes will be beneficial for both current and future college students at Montclair State University. Our younger siblings and cousins will be able to attend free community colleges and have lower college tuition. We would be able to refinance our loans with lower interest rates, which is something our previous governor did not implement. We can graduate knowing that we will not have to spend a huge chunk of our lives paying our school debts.
The news from Tuesday night feels like a sigh of relief. While we may still be paying our loans, being able to refinance them will help us pick ourselves back up, especially when we fall on difficult times. This would be helpful for students if they took advantage of it. Either way, it is possible that Murphy may have thought of students and remembered how it felt to be a recent graduate.
Murphy did not only consider plans for the citizens of New Jersey, he also thought of helping DACA students as well. Dreamers are currently not eligible for federal aid nor state aid from New Jersey. If Murphy chooses to change this policy sooner rather than later, then DACA students will have less financial burdens weighing on their shoulders.
Even if lower college tuition and free community college might not benefit students graduating this year or next, it will be significant in the long run. According to The National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students over 25 is projected to increase by 2025. The enrollment rate of these students will reach 16 percent, while students under 25 will drop to 13 percent. Post baccalaureate students can return to college for multiple reasons. With lower tuition and free community college, returning to school for post-degrees should be a smoother process. People already in the work force would feel more confident in their decision going back to school and in the future they are creating.
Now that election night is over, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s time in office will be judged based on if he can fulfill his campaign promises. The real test will come in the form of enacting his promises into legislation and policy. As college students, we have options. We can hope that Murphy will fulfill most of his promises, or we can use our voices when the next election arrives.