Governors Highlight Continued Support, Boost in Funding to Help Low-Income Students Graduate
PATERSON – Governor Phil Murphy and former Governor Tom Kean today hosted a roundtable discussion with students on New Jersey’s premier program to support low-income college students, the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF).
“Fifty years ago, then-Assemblyman Tom Kean helped create a landmark program to support low-income, first-generation New Jersey students seeking a college education – the Educational Opportunity Fund,” said Governor Murphy. “Today, we pay tribute to former Governor Kean’s legacy by renewing our commitment to EOF and boosting funding in our proposed budget so more hardworking students may reach their goal of a college degree.”
“EOF is one of the nation’s most successful higher education programs,” said former Governor Thomas Kean. “I meet teachers, lawyers, mayors, and many others who are former EOF participants, and they tell me that they would not have achieved their success in life without EOF. I am pleased that Governor Murphy shares my enthusiasm for this vital program.”
“EOF is an investment in the students who will shape New Jersey’s future,” said Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis. “The Governor’s proposed funding increase will make EOF even more valuable in boosting affordability and opportunity among students in need.”
“The Educational Opportunity Fund Program is a great way to give opportunity to students who otherwise would be stranded without means,” said Senator Nellie Pou. “This isn’t merely an opportunity for an education, it is an opportunity to end the cycle of poverty that stifles so much of the potential in our disadvantaged communities.”
“I see EOF changing lives daily at my college,” said Richard Helldobler, President of William Paterson University. “It provides not only direct grants to students, but also counseling and advising services that are indispensable to keeping first-generation college students on track.”
Governor Murphy’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget allocates an additional $2.25 million to expand the EOF program by bolstering student support services and increasing student grant awards. The increase is part of a nearly $2.6 billion appropriation for higher education, which also includes a pilot formula that begins to align state higher education funding with state priorities and a path to tuition-free education at New Jersey’s community colleges.
The Governor’s proposed budget strengthens EOF by increasing total funding to approximately $47.6 million, an 8.6 percent increase since FY2018. Half of the increase will be allocated to student awards, providing sustained funding during summer program and winter sessions, and opening the program to additional students. The other half will be allocated to campus programs that will allow for staff support and the expansion of services, particularly counseling and advising.