New Jersey invests $400M in higher ed infrastructure updates

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images)

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New Jersey is investing $400 million to improve its higher education infrastructure, hoping to keep more high school students in state for college by offering state-of-the-art facilities, Gov. Phil Murphy said in a press conference on Tuesday.

The state plans to open applications through its higher education capital facilities bond programs in early 2022 so colleges and universities can ask for money to improve aging infrastructure or for new projects. Murphy said this is the first new round of money in eight years for three of New Jersey’s higher education capital grant programs, the infrastructure fund, equipment leasing fund and facilities trust fund.

The capital improvement fund last received money in 2015. New Jersey defines technology infrastructure as “video, voice, and data telecommunications equipment and linkages, including transport services and network interconnections.”

The announcement comes as higher education institutions nationwide are making budget requests to address aging infrastructure or deferred maintenance, as well as updating their network capabilities and technology amid increasing demand for online delivery of classes and services.

“Whether it’s a state-of-the-art technology center or merely a modern and safe library for studying, we need to make sure our campuses can compete at every level, and that includes in price,” Murphy said. “Every dollar we can provide at a state level is one that does not have to be tacked on to a tuition bill.”

State Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges used Rutgers University for examples of grants funded by the latest round of money, pointing to a new 162,000 square-foot building that houses arts and science programs and more instructional and research space for biology, chemistry and neuroscience.

Grants are open to both private and public institutions, which must match a certain percentage of the funding, according to the state’s website. The state expects to award money in late 2022, according to a news release.

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