Memo to NJ High Schoolers: Get Out of State!

Football, si, education, no! That is the emphatic message out of the Corzine administration to New Jersey high school students.

Money for Rutgers football is abundant — its annual budget has ballooned to almost $16 million (the head coach salary’s alone is about $1.8 million). The grievous injury to this profound insult to scholarship at the university was the Rutgers Board of Governor’s approval of a $100+ million stadium expansion plan, despite an avalanche of facts and logic that showed the plan was reckless and cockamamie.

But, for education and scholarship, New Jersey funding for higher education is dropping fast.

Case in point: Budget cuts expected to be approved will slash a paltry scholarship program for top New Jersey high schoolers who elect to attend a community college. The current scenario is to save a whopping $2.5 million by making students in families with incomes over $100,000 ineligible. Granted, $100,000 sounds like big dough but this is one of the country’s richest states — almost all two income state employee families, for instance, earn well over $100,000. And grinding glass in this wound is that the $2.5 million is a bagatelle in the context of New Jersey’s bloated $33 billion budget — but the money ripped out of the hands of these students and their families just might make a big difference.

What’s not to expect, however. The 2006 New Jersey budget cut funding for the state’s Outstanding Scholars program, which rewarded the very best high schoolers with scholarships for choosing to attend a university in state. Maximum award was $7500; peak year funding saw $14 million go to these students. Every penny was slashed out of the 2006 budget and none has been restored.

Of course there’s also the wholesale cutting of higher education in the new draft state budget. About $78 million was slashed by Gov. Corzine, with every public college and university taking a hit. Rutgers, the school with money to burn on football, is suffering a $38 million cut and that means less money for education (fewer classes, fewer teachers, no money to maintain the campuses).

Gov. Corzine, meantime, is so gungho football he has personally vowed to help raise a $30 million donation to fund a sliver of the stadium expansion. He also promised to pony up $1 million of his own money — in stark contrast to his determination to slash funding for academic scholarships.

High schoolers: what part of this message from Trenton aren’t you getting? Unless your dream is to paint your body red, drink beer until you are comatose, and yell obscenities at opposing teams on football game days, just get out of town for your higher education.

If you are deciding right now about where you will go to college in September, take heed. Funding for New Jersey higher education will only worsen. The New Jersey budget crisis will only deepen next year and the year after. This is a longterm structural imbalance (NJ owes too much money on too little income). There is no financial magic wand that, waved by Trenton, will turn things right in the state’s colleges. Read these words carefully: get out of state and don’t look back.


12 Responses to Memo to NJ High Schoolers: Get Out of State!

  1. JerseyG says:

    Calm down.

    There are these things called jobs. Tumulty’s, PJ’s, etc, all offer them.

    There all also these things called student loans. Who knew?

    Personal responsibility and all that horrible stuff lacking in socialism.

    This has nothing to do with any sports team. RU hasn’t had anything worth mentioning as far as sports goes for decades. Tuition has benn on the rise for years and scholorships on the decling. You aren’t opening a new and radical can of worm/thought process. Be glad the few wining season the SK’s have had are bringing attention (in the form of MONEY) to the school.

    Noone told you 18+ year olds to vote for democrats (Corzine). The biggest joke going is that when you are dumb and stupid you’re a democrat…when you have a job and grow a brain, you’re a republican. That usually happens when mommy, daddy, the state, stop paying your way.

    Keep that in mind when you go voting for Obama in 2008.

  2. Mike Herndon says:

    I applaud your passion in this issue which impacts every major state university throughout this country. I noticed your messages after reading Luicci’s articles on and they definitely caught my attention because you seem to be someone yearning for the simpler, better times when Rutgers was considered one of the best schools in the country academically, not just bashing the football team blindly. I still feel that you’re taking a one-dimensional look at the football vs academics issue here, however.

    As I mentioned on the site, I live in Orlando, and it’s amazing to see how much money gets donated to UF given their amazing record in collegiate sports. Both Urban Meyer and Billy Donovan are paid exorbitant salaries, but they help drive huge dollars to the school in terms of alumni contributions. It won’t happen in the same way for Rutgers overnight, and it won’t happen going to minor bowls…we’ve got to become a consistent top 25 program. If we don’t, the budget cuts will continue to come, and Rutgers will continue to fall further and further behind the elite state universities in every way, not just on the gridiron or at the RAC. I began contributing (to the academic side) AFTER the sports improved because it led me to feel a new surge in pride about where I went to school. I suspect I’m not unusual in this.

    I’m sure you’re not going to see things the same way I do, but it’s very simple in this day and age. We’re no longer Rutgers in the 1950’s or 60’s where Rutgers College was a quasi-Ivy league school. College is more expensive than ever before, competition has increased for each applicant, and we need to invest at every level to keep up with the other major state universities. I challenge you to show me a state where their primary state school is increasing their academic and research prowess while turning a blind eye to athletics…Maine, Montana, the Dakotas, Delaware…the smaller, less populous states compete on a smaller stage…states like New Jersey, California, Texas, Michigan, Florida (where all of the state schools are making major pushed into athletics), Georgia, Virginia, etc…we have no choice, so your ranting focuses attention and effort in a negative way. If we follow your path, and leave Division 1, the education doesn’t get any better because the truckload of money going to football right now still isn’t enough to make up the deficit. We need private sector donations and most alums don’t get fired up enough about their Austen seminar or their 201 Organic Chem class to send in the dollars, as much as they may have loved their prof’s or TA’s. They get fired up to wear red, drink too much beer, and scream obscenities. Perhaps on those Thursday nights or Saturdays when you don’t want to participate (and on some games, I can’t say I blame you!), how about you leave the state?

  3. John.G says:

    A good piece. The reply by “Mike” just sums up the depths of the booster problem Rutgers (and most other state universities) face. In short, that many struggle to comprehend that the primary mission of any university is to educate its students, Again, for the likes of Mike this may be incomprehensible (the usual story: “boring” classes vs “exciting” drunken antics shows that higher learning probably didn’t leave much of a mark on Mike), but for many of the Rutgers alumni I know, the great tragedy about football “success” is precisely that it has dragged academic excellence downwards. One only has to look at the decline in USN rankings since Lawrence came onboard. Enough said.

  4. bronxboy says:

    Education is more than the amount of money earmarked for academics. If RU sent the unmistakeable message that schloarship is its priority by investing every available dollar into academics and deemphasizing sports, the quality of the applicants will improve.

    RU’s academic decline commenced with its decision by a booster dominated Board of Governors to embrace big time athletics. There’s no reason to believe that a reversal of that tragic choice will not improve RU academically. No serious student judges a school by the success of its football team.

  5. […] New Jersey high school seniors, we reiterate our counsel.  Get thee out of state for your higher education because here in the Garden State the outlook for […]

  6. […] the Scarlet Nation board, a poster named Rufanpops — who apparently read and thus quoted our advice to high school students to go out of state for their higher education unless they wanted to spend […]

  7. JerseyG says:

    Bronxboy –

    A STATE school appeals to a BROAD range of students. But since you brought it up….

    No SERIOUS student judges a school by the scholarships it hands out. SERIOUS students apply to SERIOUSLY ACADEMIC COLLEGES…like MIT or Princeton or Cornell. And should they get accepted and can’t AFFORD the tuition, they buck up and take on jobs and student loans. They don’t sit around and whine that the misuc department gets more attention than the theater department or the science department.

    RU offers a lot, and in the very recent past it now offers a successful football team. Wasn’t like that 10 years or 5 years ago.

    Are you saying that there has been a decline in the potential to learn at RU given the recent successfull football program?

    A successfull RU FBall team generates a lot more than a few $$ for RU. The economy in and around NB is also boosted during a successful season.

    I would assume OBAMA is getting your under-30 year old vote?

  8. bronxboy says:

    JerseyG –

    I wrote scholarship as in learning not schloarships as in money. You’re right though, RU is no longer a serious academic institution such as the schools you cited. Previous generations of RU students enjoyed an education nearly equivalent to the ivies and at a fraction of the cost until RU undertook this mindless venture into big time sports thirty years ago.

    Today it is a football factory typical of any ordinary State U. You can certainly “learn” at RU, however, its sports first culture is not conducive to the pursuit of the highest levels of academic achievement. RU’s only priority should be providing the best possible education for its students. The university doesn’t exist to provide professionalized sports entertainment for the public or the local merchants. The businesses that serviced the RU community survived for over two hundred years without big time football.

    RU should deemphasize Division IA athletics and return to its roots when it competed both intellectually and athletically with serious academic institutions.

  9. RUsupporter says:

    bronxboy, what you are suggesting is that RU become literally the only major state school in the nation that doesn’t invest in big time athletics. What is so unique about Rutgers that, while every other college of our size garners recognition and pride through football and basketball, we should drop our athletics down among the likes of tiny private schools we can’t be compared to? I’m not saying big time athletics is okay just because everyone else does it… I’m saying there’s a reason everyone else does it.

  10. bronxboy says:

    RU should be its own model, the one it embodied with distinction for over 100 years since football began in 1869. I can’t speak for other universities, but there was never a need for professionalized big time college football in NJ given the access of its citizens to NFL games in Philly and NYC.

    RU competed both intellectually and athletically with the ivies and schools that now play Division IAA sports. The notion that RU has to play big time just because of its size or designation as a State U is a myth perpetrated by the boosters and commercial interests that profit from big time sports while academics and students suffer.

    Historically there is no basis for the assertion that RU lacked “pride” before big time sports and the idea that prestige is garnered from sports is another booster deception. High academic achieving students bring prestige and standing to a university, not athletics.

    The sad truth is that top flight academics and big time football are fundamentally incompatible as proven in the vast body of research in this area. The Knight Commission report is just one example of that work. The best universities do not play big time sports.

    The RU community understood that at one time. There was never an outcry for big time sports. In the late 70’s when a booster dominated Board of Governors pushed RU in that direction, President Bloustein promised that RU was only going bigger time, not big time. The endless waste of money on football at the expense of academics continues to this day. Meanwhile the corporate sponsors and politicians cut their deals in the luxury boxes. They don’t care and never have cared one whit about maintaining the best possible environment for learning at a once proud institution that used to dedicate itself first and foremost to higher education.

  11. Rutgers1000 says:

    […] Comments bronxboy on Memo to NJ High Schoolers: Get…ashok on Philosophizing about Philosoph…John.G on Congratulations Dick McCormick…John.G on The […]

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