This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed a $2.57 million cut to New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) funding in the 2017 fiscal year.
The budget for EOF funding statewide would go from $41.3 million to $38.8 million under the proposal, approximately 6% cut in funding. The state budget
EOF is a unique statewide program that supports low-income, first-generation college students.
There are over 2,600 students across the three Rutgers campuses who benefit from EOF funding.
The program is more than grants (which are up to $750). The program provides a summer institute for incoming first-year students, counseling, special EOF-only courses, free tutorial services, and leadership opportunities.
An Open Public Records Request Act request for the Rutgers EOF program budget was denied on the grounds of being "overbroad."
Some argue that the proposed interest in the Tuition Assistant Grant (TAG) program would offset the effects of the cuts to EOF.
However, according to the state budget proposal, TAG aids one-third of all full-time undergraduate students attending school in New Jersey. It is not aimed at the most disadvantaged students the way that EOF is.
EOF provides far more than just financial support. It is a program that supports students financially, socially, and academically throughout college and beyond.
There has been pushback on Rutgers campus and beyond.
The Educational Opportunity Fund Student Association (EOFSA) has been hosting events to raise awareness of the proposed funding cut and to show EOF supporters how they can support the program.
Rutgers President Robert Barchi has promised to lobby against the cuts.
Supporters of the EOF program can also reach out to state representatives to express their support. There are some advocacy resources on the website of the Educational Opportunity Fund Professional Association of New Jersey.
Beyond EOF funding, every public school in the state is going to see a cut in direct funding if the proposed budget is approved.
"EOF is definitely one of the best decision I have made so far in my college career," said Leo Scarano, a first-year student at Rutgers. "Students who are disadvantaged, whether it is due to having low income, being a first-generation college student, or both, should not be stripped of their right to a college education."
"EOF has given me opportunites such as financial aid, book stipends, scholarship opportunties, and even job/internship opportunities. I have also established lifelong friendships, and an amazing support system. I am proud to be an EOF student, and I can honestly and truthfully say that the wrong programs are being limited."