On a small scale, we can see the coronavirus pandemic already making an impact on college tuition rates in New Jersey for the 2021 academic year — so far, it's in the form of good news for students.

Ocean County College, along with Brookdale Community College, located in Monmouth County, have announced that tuition and fees will not increase for students who begin classes in the fall.

“We are pleased to be able to offer this benefit to our students and our community, especially during this time of financial stress on so many,” OCC President Jon Larsen said.

"For us, it was just a no-brainer," added BCC President David Stout. "We knew that our students were in significant need of trying to keep the cost of education as low as possible."

Stout said the college began tightening its financial belt in the summer — leaving open positions vacant, for example — to make up for decreased funding and eventually make room for this tuition decision.

BCC experienced close to a 9% drop in enrollment in fall 2020 and a drop of about 10% during the current semester, Stout said. According to Stout, a tuition freeze is quite rare, considering expenses such as benefits and salaries increase on a yearly basis.

County colleges in New Jersey typically work on a similar schedule when it comes to decisions and announcements regarding tuition, but decisions in 2021 could be delayed due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 public health crisis.

In an emailed statement to New Jersey 101.5, Gene Lepore, executive director of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, said the senior public colleges and universities in the state have not yet made decisions regarding next year's tuition and fees.

"The institutions remain sensitive to the financial hardships facing students and their families as a result of the pandemic, and this will be a key consideration in any decision," Lepore said.

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