Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson is calling for the state Legislature to consider free college for children and spouses of fallen military members.
“This is something that’s very doable,” Levinson said Tuesday.
In a news release, Levinson, a Republican, questioned the feasibility of free college for all, including a plan proposed by Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, for free community college.
“It’s not going to occur. It’s just not feasible and it’s too expensive,” he said. “And it’s not free.”
It is unclear how much support the proposal will receive from the higher education organizations.
Pam Hersh, communications director for the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, declined to comment on the proposal.
Jacob Farbman, communications director for the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.
Under Levinson’s proposal — which he has sent to the county Board of Freeholders and Atlantic Cape Community College President Barbara Gaba for consideration — a spouse or child of a military service member who died in active duty would be eligible for the free tuition.
Levinson said the cost would be absorbed by the state for the 11 public institutions of higher education and by the respective counties for the 21 county colleges.
He said he is looking to send his proposal to the state Legislature for consideration.
Other than private scholarships, Levinson said, he is aware of only the War Orphans Tuition Assistance program that provides $500 per year for four years of college or equivalent training. The U.S. Veterans Administration offers a number of benefits and programs for them, but free college tuition is not one of them, he said.
“If colleges and universities can offer full paid tuition for athletes and video gamers, shouldn’t we be doing the same for the children of those who died to protect each of us and our family members,” Levinson said.