Lawmakers fight Christie’s plan to cut aid for college students

BY AVALON ZOPPO, For NJ.com

TRENTON — Teachers and education advocates are urging lawmakers in the state’s Capitol to shoot down a budget proposal that would cut millions of dollars to low-income college students.

Gov. Chris Christie’s budget, first circulated in February, proposes a $3.6 million drop in aid to the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), a program that offers financial services to economically disadvantaged students. But Senate Democrats seek to restore that money and add another $1 million for a total of $43.8 million in funding.

The Senate Budget Committee voted Monday night to approve the Democratic plan, which included increased EOF funding, but it must now pass both houses of the legislature. In New Jersey, the governor has the option to line-item veto the budget and partially reduce any increases.

Defending the program on Thursday, Donna M. Chiera, President of the American Federation of New Jersey Teachers, said the EOF reflects “sound educational practices” and an opportunity for those facing challenges.

“(EOF offers) disadvantaged students who are willing to do the work, social, emotional, financial and academic support to help mitigate the impact of poverty and give them the opportunity to succeed in pursuing higher education,” Chiera said during a press conference in Trenton.

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