By Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media for

TRENTON — New Jersey’s “lackluster” financial support of its colleges and universities has led to increased tuition, ballooning student debt and erosion in the quality of higher education, according to a new report.

The state’s higher education funding has dropped by more 22 percent since 2008 when adjusted for inflation, a decrease of more than $2,150 per student, according to an analysis by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a Trenton-based public policy research group.

Meanwhile, average four-year tuition costs in New Jersey grew by 23.7 percent between 2004 and 2013 while the average family income fell by 7.3 percent with inflation factored into both calculations.

As a result, average student debt for New Jersey students rose by 40.5 percent when adjusted for inflation, the report said.

New Jersey Policy Perspective President Gordon MacInnes urged the state to change course for the sake of New Jersey’s working families and the state’s economic future.

“For most, the American Dream includes putting your kids through college,” MacInnes said. “But New Jersey’s lack of investment in higher education makes achieving the dream far more difficult.

Gov. Chris Christie’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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