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Barbara Berreski, JD, MS

Chief Executive Officer

Director, Government & Legal Affairs



Patricia S. Berry

Chief Operating Officer


Pamela J. Hersh

Communications & Public Affairs


Support Staff

Charlene R. Pipher

Executive Assistant/Web Design


Terry Toth

Part-Time Secretarial Assistant


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New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities

150 West State Street

Trenton, New Jersey 08608

609-989-1100 office

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The State of Retention and Completion in Higher Education in United States is Not Pretty


February 7, 2018

The United States has one of the highest college dropout rates in the industrial world according to an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2014 report. Administrators are acutely aware that it’s not enough to just get students into college. Once they have enrolled, how and why they depart matters just as equally. But data suggests the situation is improving slowly. Overall, U.S. full-time student retention is 74.4% for full-time students. At 81.6%, four-year private not-for-profit colleges had the highest retention of all education sectors.

Higher Ed Groups Criticize House GOP’s Financial Aid Bill
February 7, 2018

With their attention occupied by tax reform last year, the higher education lobby had a muted response to the GOP’s first crack at overhauling the student aid system and how it keeps colleges accountable. That’s begun to change over the last month as major higher ed associations have issued forceful criticisms of the PROSPER Act, as Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have labeled their update to the Higher Education Act, while also alerting member institutions about perceived serious problems with the bill. The timing may seem odd, with the groups only becoming engaged on the bill about a month after it advanced out of committee. But over the last few weeks, major lobby groups have had their first chance to seriously examine the legislation, which overhauls the system of federal student loans and grants and curtails benefits for graduate students in particular. The nearly 600-page bill would also scale back accountability measures introduced by the Obama administration while opening up Pell Grants to more short-term programs. The full implications of a new loan repayment benchmark for colleges, as well as a graduation-rate requirement for minority institutions that receive targeted federal funds, are unclear.

State Appropriations to Higher Ed Grew Just 1.6 Percent for FY 2017-18
January 22, 2018

According to data set to be released Monday on the bigger picture around state funding in higher education, nationwide, appropriations increased by 1.6% this fiscal year – a number which falls short of the 2.1% inflation rate, and represents the lowest annual growth rate in five years.

Most of the meager uptick was thanks to increases in California, Florida and Georgia, which buoyed the rest of the country with 24 percent, 23 percent and 10 percent of the national gains, respectively.

More states (19) decreased higher ed appropriations than increased (18), and several remained flat.

Many higher ed advocates are worried about the impact that the federal tax bill will have on state appropriations in 2018 and beyond, fearing tax cuts at the federal level will trickle down and increase mandatory spending obligations at the state level. Additionally, changes to the state and local tax deductions will put an additional revenue squeeze on local jurisdictions where legislators don’t want to be seen as raising taxes after cuts to the federal tax rate. In Missouri, for example, American Association of State Colleges and Universities director of state relations and policy analysis Tom Harnisch told an audience of higher ed government relations officials that “71% of revenue …. Is generated through the income tax, but with changes to federal tax deduction, there could be as high as $700M loss in there, or other projections as high as $1 billion.” As he pointed out, “Now they could always change at the state level …. But you’ll have some governors who will say “hey, my citizens just got a huge tax cut, and I’m not going to raise taxes. We’re just going to have to make cuts.”

Rutgers Among NJ Colleges to Receive $5 Million for Drug Treatment Program
January 18, 2018

Rutgers – New Brunswick and Newark, alongside The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Montclair State University and Ramapo College of New Jersey, will receive roughly $950,000 of the $4,762,000 lump sum. The Supporting Students in Recovery program will provide or expand supportive, substance-free living environments for college students in recovery as well as services aimed at preventing addiction.

Christie Delivers His Final State of the State Address
January 10, 2018

With his legacy still a matter of debate thanks to record-low approval ratings, Gov. Chris Christie used his final State of the State address on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, to emphatically recast his two terms in office, asserting that his tenure was one of consequence that will be viewed more fondly over time.

But Democrat Phil Murphy, who will take over the governor’s office next week, was far less gracious in his response, accusing Christie of painting a “sunny picture” of a state in “dire fiscal crisis.” He cited the fact that New Jersey’s economy fell behind other states, despite the national recovery.

Businesses May Start Paying Off Their Workers’ Student Debt
December 27, 2017

Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, is proposing legislation to reduce New Jersey’s outmigration of New Jersey’s college graduates by reducing the student college loan debts withy New Jersey jobs.

“New Jersey, unfortunately, leads the nation with the number of graduates and millennials in general leaving the state of New Jersey,” he said.

Asm. Dancer said under his bill if a New Jersey business hires and retains New Jersey college grads with science, technology, engineering and math degrees, it would receive a $5,000 business credit to contribute toward paying down the worker’s college debt.

Under the measure, businesses could continue to collect a tax credit of $5,000 year, paying off their employee’s student loan for the same amount up to a maximum of $50,000 in a 10-year period.

Gov-elect Murphy Will Consider Changing State Property Tax Deduction as Suggested by Christie in Response to New Federal Tax Law 
December 26, 2017

Gov-elect Phil Murphy said he’s open to pursuing changes to the state’s tax code that would allow homeowners to write-off their entire property tax bill – an idea Gov. Chris Christie floated after the new federal tax bill passed.

Gov-elect Murphy, still fuming over passage of the Republican tax bill in Washington, said he was not immediately dismissing the suggestion and thought it could potentially fit into a wholesale response to the federal changes.

Big Wins for Public Institutions in Fundraising Game


December 21, 2017


Eight of 19 charitable donations of $100 million or more went to public institutions in 2017, including the Helen Diller Foundation’s $500 million gift to the University of California at San Francisco – the largest gift in the UC system’s history, reports The Chronicle of Philanthropy.  Public institutions this year have projected 3.9 percent growth in fund raising, while private colleges and universities may only see a .8 percent gain, according to a survey of education administrators by Council for Advancement and Support of Education.  The rise in gifts to public schools could be explained by donors wanting to give their money to help those institutions with access and social mobility missions, according to The Chronicle, citing an expert.  Other reasons include greater investment in appealing to wealthy donors, having more alumni to reach out to, and promoting the need for fund raising beyond just “keeping the lights on.”

Lame Duck Means Last-Minute Madness that May Benefit Stockton University
December 20, 2017

The Lame Duck Session is intense, chaotic, but also may prove beneficial to one NJASCU institution, thanks to the following measures being considered:

S-3565, introduced December 4, would have the state pay for benefits for additional staff “at four-year public institution of higher education that establishes postsecondary academic and residential facilities in a coastal city with gaming in a resort area.” In other words, Stockton University.

Two other bills, S-2872 and S-3169, would provide tax and other incentives to an area that includes Atlantic City International Airport and its environs.

Rowan University to Spend $50M on New Medical School Research Program
December 20, 2017

Rowan University will spend $50 million over the decade to help create a medical research program at the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.

The investment will add to the city of Camden’s revitalization efforts and create new economic opportunities in the “eds and meds” corridor that the city began promoting earlier this year. The funding will be used, in part, to develop programs, attract top researchers, and provide seed money and startup costs for researchers, said Ali Houshmand, Rowan’s president, in a release.

“Medical research programs, as we envision at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, have great potential to impact education, our health care system and the economy,” said Dr. Houshmand. “We believe this investment and the collaboration with Cooper University Health Care physicians will build upon CMSRU’s strong reputation and strengthen Camden’s ‘eds and meds’ corridor as an important destination for medical and bioscience research, and is in keeping with our recent designation as a Carnegie research institution. [….] Attracting top students and health care professionals benefits patients, it benefits our health care system and it provides additional economic opportunities in Camden.”

13 Ways You May Get Screwed in 2018, New Jersey
December 20, 2017

New Jersey residents will face some unfortunate NEW fiscal challenges in 2018. Public colleges and universities will face not only the ongoing outmigration of first year students, but also the outmigration of the parents.

New York Governor Signs BSN in 10 Into Law for Nurses
December 20, 2017

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a requirement that nurses earn a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure. The new law has many implications for RNs in NY, as well as across the country. The Institute of Medicine’s Future Nursing Report calls for 80 percent of RNs to hold bachelor’s degrees by 2020, noting the need for higher education in RNs to take care of the higher complexity patients in our healthcare system.

How the GOP Tax Plan Can Affect Higher Education
December 18, 2017

Higher ed leaders are watching closely to see how impacts to itemized deductions will impact charitable giving, and many are concerned a number of changes would decrease state appropriations while increasing the tax burden for the industry’s largest institutions. While tuition waivers are saved from taxable income and the committee agreed to preserve the ability to deduct student loan interest, there are still a number of provisions that will impact institutions if this bill is passed.

Some of the biggest concerns in the tax bill for higher education leaders are the proposed endowment tax for private institutions; the changes to individual deductions, including changes to the way charitable giving can be itemized and the ability to deduct state and local income taxes; and the elimination of private activity bonds that can impact college and university foundations that are involved in real estate. The bill also proposes a 21% tax on the top-five paid individuals with salaries over $1 million at nonprofit organizations, which puts institutions on the hook for paying a tax on the salaries of the president and men’s basketball and football coaches.

The inability to deduct state and local income taxes still worries many higher ed administrators that there will be pressure on states and localities not to raise taxes, which means that though some individuals may see an increase in net earnings, there will be increasingly tough decisions about discretionary funding in state houses – and further cuts to higher ed at the state level.

And though individuals will still be able to deduct charitable gifts, the required threshold for itemization would mean an estimated loss of $12 billion to $20 billion per year for the industry starting in 2018. And the elimination of the 80% deduction for seat licenses at college sporting events may mean athletic departments lose a major incentive for potential program donors, as well, which could shift some of the athletic budget burden back to the institution.

Gov-elect Murphy Will Be Appointing Assemblywoman Muoio as State Treasurer
December 13, 2017

Governor-elect Phil Murphy will announce Wednesday he will nominate a Democratic first-term state assemblywoman and local government official to become New Jersey’s next state treasurer, two sources with knowledge of the decision confirmed to NJ Advance Media.

Assemblywoman Elizabeth Muoio of Mercer County will be introduced by Murphy, a fellow Democrat, at a noon news conference in Trenton, according to the sources, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

Montclair State Case, Testing State vs. Local Authority, Goes to Supreme Court


December 12, 2017


In a case lodged by Montclair State University over plans for a road construction project, the New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to take up the issue of how closely state and local government entities must coordinate on such undertakings.


The court granted a petition for certification in Montclair State University v. County of Passaic, an action lodged by the university after it failed to come to a consensus with local authorities over its proposed project.


In its petition, the city of Clifton, seeking ultimately to overturn a precedential Appellate Division ruling in the case from earlier this year, argued that the decision, if left to stand alone, would allow a state agency “to proceed even with a manifestly unsafe or unreasonable project, over legitimate local concerns and objections, as long as the state agency sits down with the local agency and discusses the local objections but then ignores them.”

Expansion of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Expected to Get $5 Million Boost
December 9, 2017

The Mayor of Jersey City, Steve Fulop in a statement thanked “NJ Transit for advancing the process for extending the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to Route 440 in order to support the future growth of Jersey City’s West Side neighborhood. This expansion will improve connectivity for projects such as Bayfront and New Jersey City University’s new West Campus.”

New House and Senate Tax Bills Would Affect College Students, Families


December 7, 2017


Tax bills passed by the House and Senate in Congress would have major implications for universities and students if signed into law, college officials say, including reducing or eliminating some popular tax deductions and taxing tuition waivers for graduate assistants.  Other provisions would reduce incentives for charitable giving, which could make people less likely to donate to nonprofit university foundations.  Both bills have passed their respective house of Congress and must be negotiated before a final bill is sent to President Donald Trump.

Republican Proposal Could Create Bigger Role for Private Industry in Higher Education


December 5, 2017


On December 1, the Republican leadership of the House Education and Workforce Committee released their proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.  HEA, as it’s known, is the statute governing colleges and the student loan program – and it comes up for review periodically.


The last time lawmakers reauthorized the law was in 2008.  For the past several years, lawmakers in both houses and on both sides of the aisle have indicated interest in working through the law again.


Much of the proposal that House Republicans released last week is controversial and likely won’t make it into the final law, but the plan provides an indication of Congressional Republicans’ priorities for the nation’s higher education system.


Those priorities include limiting the federal government’s role in regulating colleges, capping graduate student borrowing, making it easier for schools to limit undergraduate borrowing – and overhauling the student loan repayment system.  Many of those moves have the potential to create a larger role for private industry.

Missed Opportunity of the Year:  Failure to Reauthorize HEA


December 4, 2017


The bill, which initially expired in 2013, was extended to 2016 to allow Congress time to work out amendments and other changes, but issues like affordability and college costs; access, persistence and completion; better information for consumers; student loan programs; accreditation and oversight; innovation; sexual assault; and the burden of federal regulations remain in the balance.


Members from both parties have indicated reauthorization is not a top priority, as healthcare and tax reform have monopolized most of the conversations since the new Congress was sworn in.


The Education Dive team named the failure of Congress to reauthorize the Higher Education Act the biggest missed opportunity in 2016 – and it takes the award again in 2017.  Earlier this year, House Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) said there’s no timeline on reauthorization.


But there’s a lot on the line with the reauthorization of the HEA.  Affordability and access will surely take center stage in the new bill, but increasingly, there is an imperative to address the needs of adult learners and non-traditional students.  Accreditation, access and campus safety and sexual assault are also key components of the bill, and with the current climate of the country increasingly centered around sexual assault, there will be even more pressure to address it directly through the new bill.


Gov-Elect Murphy Outlines a Pro-Tax Policy, But Has No Sales Tax Increase
November 29, 2017

Tax policy took center stage during the gubernatorial campaign after Phil Murphy’s team revealed in August that the Democrat would raise taxes at least $1.3 billion to pay for his policy agenda.

Now that Phil Murphy is the governor-elect, expect taxes to dominate the coming months of political debate in Trenton. His committees include increasing state aid to local school districts “immediately” and fully funding the state’s public employee pension system at some point. During the campaign, Murphy’s team outlined several changes to the tax code – a millionaires’ tax, a tax on legal marijuana and closing corporate loopholes – to generate revenue to help pay for his programs. But increasing the sales tax is not part of the Murphy strategy.

Feds’ One-Two Tax Punch for NJ Would Hurt Financing of Public University Buildings in Partnership with Private Developers


November 28, 2017


As Congress is working to advance am ambitious plan to rewrite the federal tax code, most of the attention in New Jersey has been focused on a proposal to scale back or even eliminate the SALT deduction for state and local taxes.  But many communities across the state could also see a big impact from new tax rules that are being proposed for investment in major building projects.


A largely overlooked section of the tax-overhaul legislation the U.S. House of Representatives passed earlier this month calls for an ending of the tax-exempt status of so-called private-activity bonds, which are often used to finance things like hospital facilities, university buildings, affordable housing, and infrastructure projects.


New Jersey, with its high population density, is particularly linked to the types of projects that have benefitted from such tax-exempt financing, with the recent redevelopment of the Hahne & Co. building in Newark and the rebuilding of the Goethals Bridge between Elizabeth and Staten Island among those that have used private-activity financing in recent years.


While the proposed new tax rules wouldn’t prevent governments themselves from issuing tax-exempt bonds, local leaders are concerned they could make it a lot harder and more expensive to finance the type of private-sector investment that is often encouraged as part of an overall economic-development strategy.  The local governments, meanwhile, could also get hit by another part of the tax legislation that would affect debt-refinancing issues.  Financial experts warn the tax overhaul could also hold back the construction of industry if some building projects end up being shelved altogether.

Is Betsy DeVos Devaluing Four-Year College Degrees?
November 28, 2017

The Trump administration’s higher education policy to date has consisted largely of undoing what it inherited – rolling back, for instance, ambitious Obama era regulations on for-profit colleges and campus policies on sexual assault. Observers looking for an affirmative, forward-looking agenda have been hard-pressed to find much so far.

But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this month provided as a clear a sense as observers have yet seen of her vision for her department’s role in, and agenda for, postsecondary education, with a set of comments signaling a shift in emphasis from education to training. In two separate forums this month, she said students have for years received a message that “the only path for a successful life” is through a four-year degree. But the increasing diversity of the student population – and the relatively small proportion of students enrolled full-time at four-year institutions – points to the need for greater attention to alternatives involving skills training, she said.

Governor-Elect Murphy Announces Full Transition Team
November 13, 2017

“Our task is simple: get to work setting the blueprint to strengthen our economy and make it fair again,” Transition 2018 Executive Director Jose Lozano said. “The depth and breadth of experience in this group is stunning. Let there be no doubt: New Jersey faces massive obstacles ahead. But together, with Governor-elect Murphy and the entire Transition 2018 team, we’ll tackle those problems head-on and ensure the Murphy administration hits the ground running in January.”

ETS* Scores in Assessment and Student Success
November 2, 2017

In higher education, two “A” words are bandied about all the time – accessibility and affordability with the ultimate institutional goal of developing successful, well-educated, engaged individuals, who become valuable contributors to their local and global communities. But there is a third “A” word – assessment – that is crucial in achieving student learning and success. ETS headquartered in Princeton, NJ, gets an A plus in providing higher education institutions with the world’s best assessment strategies and tools facilitating the overarching higher education mission.

ETS has a team of education experts, researchers and assessment developers who believe that, through learning, people can improve their situations in life and make incredible contributions to the world. At its core is the belief that by designing assessments with industry-leading insight, rigorous research and an uncompromising commitment to quality, ETS is advancing equity and helping education and workplace communities make informed decisions about people and programs.

Renowned throughout the world for its assessment tools, ETS recently developed a new one – TouchPoint Assessment Portfolio that provides a holistic, rather than piece-meal, assessment strategy. The TouchPoint Assessment Portfolio includes assessments that span the entire student lifecycle, and includes support for measuring student learning and the overall assessment process. Therefore, institutions gain a comprehensive understanding of student learning and success. By analyzing student progress and capturing and utilizing meaningful data, the institution creates a bigger picture and develops a better outlook for institutional effectiveness and student success.

AJ Sabath, NJASCU Board Chair, is the new NJPRO Executive Director
November 1, 2017

The New Jersey Policy Research Organization (NJPRO) has hired a new executive director, AJ Sabath of the Advocacy & Management Group. Mr. Sabath, a Ramapo College alumnus and current chair of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU) Board, assumed the NJPRO position on October 31, 2017. Mr. Sabath will continue to serve in his capacity at AMG while also serving as executive director of NJPRO.

NJPRO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization conducting innovative, timely and practical research on issues of importance to New Jersey employers. Working with diverse interest, NJPRO sponsors and supports research in New Jersey through both public and private policy research institutes, universities, colleges and individuals.

“We are very pleased to have AJ Sabath on board with us,” said Charlene Brown, a senior executive at AT&T who serves as the president of the Board of Trustees. “After a thorough interview process, we are certain that AJ is the ideal candidate who will successfully lead NJPRO in a direction aligned with our strategic priorities.”


Budget Basics: Employee Retirement Benefits – the Problem is Large - NJSpotlight.com (October 2, 2017)
Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds - Wall Street Journal (September 7, 2017)

Change in Montclair State's Status May Lead to Changes for College Association - Politico.com (August 31, 2017)

The following Letter to the Editor from NJASCU Executive Director Michael Klein was sent in response to a Star-Ledger editorial "College Sex Assaults: Right Cause But Wrong Leader" - Star Ledger (July 24, 2017)

“Colleges Pull Back Tuition’s Long Rise” - NJASCU Executive Director Michael Klein responded to a recent Wall Street Journal article WSJ.com (July 24, 2017)

Benefits of Title IX Pass Down Through Generations - NorthJersey.com (July 15, 2017)
NJASCU CEO Michael Klein Responds in NJSpotlight.com to a Fund for New Jersey Report - Would Reforms to Small-Business Tax, Minimum Wage, Family-Leave Fix NJ Economy? - NJSpotlight.com (July 13, 2017)

NJASCU CEO Michael Klein Challenges Assumptions in a June 5, 2017, WSJ Op-Ed - Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor (June 23, 2017)

NJASCU CEO Michael Klein responded to a New York Times article: "Student Debt's Grip on the Economy," that appeared in the Sunday Review section on May 21, 2017 - NYTimes.com (May 21, 2017)

How We Are Ruining America -The College Admissions Game - NYTimes.com (July 13, 2017)

Legislators Consider Overhauling Higher Education Act - EducationDive.com (June 26, 2017)
DACA Students Won't Be Deported - For Now - EducationDive.com (June 19, 2017)
NJASCU Testifies in Opposition to Proposed Assembly Bill No. 2842 - May 11, 2017

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