To the editor:
As a former student at Somerset County College, now Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC), I can still recall the reasons I attended. Quality education and affordability.
Over the years I have watched RVCC maintain its high level of academic achievement. In fact, my son attended RVCC after graduating from Hillsborough High in 2000. He attended for the same reason I did. As many RVCC students do he went on to get a BS and Master’s degree and now has a successful career.
But over the last six years, I have noticed a disturbing trend. While maintaining a high level of academic achievement, affordability has become a major concern. I see this first hand as I am involved in two non-profit organizations that provide scholarships to students at RVCC. Hearing these students describe how any amount they might receive as a scholarship is critical to their being able to continue their education, is heart-wrenching.
A major source of funding for RVCC is Somerset County. It is unfathomable to see, year after year, that Somerset County Freeholders decide to fund RVCC at basically the same dollar amount while they know the costs associated with providing a high-level education invariable rise. It is distressing that year after year Somerset County Freeholders increase funding for the Somerset County Park Commission. Per the county’s budget, since 2012 Somerset County Freeholders have increased funding to RVCC a total of $185,945. Increased allocations to the Park Commission totaled $2,683,382. While good quality parks and golf courses are an important element of a community, affordable high-quality education is the foundation for individual success and a critical component of the overall health and well-being of society.
So, this letter is about priorities. I call upon the Freeholders to take stock of what is critical to building a better future for all Somerset County residents and society overall, versus what is important. And provide the needed funding accordingly.
Hopefully, our students will always see quality education and affordability at RVCC, in their future.