Montclair State University is set to receive $35,859,000 in funding from the state for the 2019 fiscal year according to the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities.
The New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis and Gov. Phil Murphy took the podium at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey on Tuesday, March 26, in order to announce their plan for higher education.
The primary goal of this new plan is to create an even playing field in the realm of opportunity to attend college and graduate in a timely manner no matter one’s background or financial status.
“This is a student-driven plan, this is not an institution-driven plan,” Murphy said. “This is a plan created through direct engagement with and listening to the needs of our students. To their needs of accessibility and affordability, to their needs for better information when making decisions regarding where to go to school including the real costs.”
Murphy proposed each New Jersey public universities’ funding to the legislature in his annual budget plan. These funds would be coming to the universities for the start of the fall 2019 semester.
Montclair State President Susan Cole stated that the university’s state-based funding is due to two key factors.
“The governor has initially proposed in his budget proposal some funding for certain institutions based on the extent to which they have diverse populations of students and extent to which those students succeed at the institution,” Cole said. “As a result of those metrics, in the budget that the governor proposed to the legislature, Montclair State got some additional funding.”
If Murphy’s funding is passed through, Montclair State would receive the highest amount of funding out of any public university in the state.
Junior business administration and marketing major Mia Stevens believes the funding from the state restores her confidence in the equal chances Montclair State provides to attend the university.
“I think it’s reassuring to know that the university acknowledges students from all economic backgrounds and allows everyone the opportunity to excel despite financial shortfalls,” Stevens said.
While Montclair State tops the chart in state funding, the overall funding from the state has been on a steady decline each year. Compared to state funding in 2006, the amount for the university has dropped nearly $15 million.
Montclair State has had to take on a lot of debt, especially when it comes to renovating university buildings. This has led to university credit rating agencies, like Moody’s Investor Service and Fitch Ratings, to raise concern on Montclair State’s ability to manage their debt annually moving forward.
“The reason we have the debt is because the state neglected to provide any funding for buildings for decades to the institutions,” Cole said. “The institutions had no choice but to go out to the market to borrow in order to provide the facilities that the students need to be renovated and to maintain [them].”
While state funding is an established problem that New Jersey proposed to work on in their higher education plan, many students on campus aren’t even aware of this problem.
Junior English major Abigail Stokes didn’t have much of a reaction to hearing about the university’s state funding accomplishment.
“My gut reaction because I go here is like, ‘Well, great,’ because it’s us,” Stokes said. “But most students aren’t really aware of how much other universities are getting, or even what we’re getting at all. It’s not something that affects me all that much. I just hear it, and I’m like, ‘Okay, cool.’”
Despite the state providing the university tens of millions of dollars for this years funding, that is only a small percentage of what is needed to alleviate the debt the school has to take on.
Cole was happy to hear that the school was receiving the highest amount of funding for public universities in the state, but it is still not where she wants it to be.
“It’s still not enough funding, but it’s better than no additional funding, which is what we’ve been looking at for a very long time now,” Cole said, “This is at least a small increase, so that’s a good thing.”