New Jersey Commission on Higher Education

New Jersey's Capital Investment in Higher Education

A Report to the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education
February 1999

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Table of Contents
Existing Facilities: Profiles of the Sectors
Funding Since 1980
Capital Requirements
Summary and Conclusions


During the past eighteen months, the Commission on Higher Education has been gathering data regarding facilities at the public and private colleges and universities in the state. A significant portion of the data was generated by a two-phase institutional survey.1 This facilities survey was the first since the early 1990s and the first to result in a formal report since the late 1980s; it was intended to accomplish the following five goals:

New Jersey has a significant investment in facilities for higher education. The replacement value of academic buildings at the institutions that responded to the survey is more than $5 billion; it is more than $2 billion for auxiliary buildings such as dormitories and student centers. The 1,955 buildings contain more than 51 million gross square feet,2 the majority of which was constructed in the 1960s and 1970s (see Figure 1). The colleges and universities estimate that an additional $3.2 billion is needed for capital construction over the next seven years, two-thirds of which is for new construction, with an additional $547 million needed to preserve existing buildings.3

This report begins by describing the current facilities in each sector, including the age of the facilities and their use, and drawing national comparisons where possible. It then summarizes the public funds and debt issued by institutions for facilities since 1980. The third section of the report details the capital requirements as estimated by the institutions.

Before beginning the discussion, however, there are three caveats. First, although attempts were made to ensure that the data are correct and comparable, different institutions have different capabilities in their capital information systems. As a result, the values included may be more reflective of orders of magnitude than precise figures. Second, two institutions provided no information, and others were unable to complete some portions of the survey. Third, the description of public or other funding most likely understates the total amounts available or spent because institutions may obtain funds from sources not included in the survey or analysis, such as foundations or general purpose funds. For example, public four-year institutions received funds from energy conservation bond issues, and several public and private institutions constructed athletic facilities using financing secured through the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, but these are not included in the totals.


Existing Facilities: Profiles of the Sectors

Community Colleges

The 19 community colleges operate 26 campuses (five colleges have at least two campuses). The average college maintains 185 acres, of which 79 are improved. The smallest campus is just under two acres; the largest exceeds 553 acres. As of August 1997, the smallest campus had 49,500 square feet, the largest, 806,319. Of the total 7.8 million square feet of buildings, 45 percent was constructed during the 1970s, 17 percent during the 1960s, and 19 percent in the 1990s (see Figure 1). The replacement value of the buildings is $970 million, or approximately $126 per square foot. Most of the space is academic; auxiliary facilities comprise only 11 percent of the total. The replacement value of auxiliary space is $88 per square foot; that for academic space is $130. The age of the facilities reflects the creation of the colleges in the late 1960s and their expansion through the bond acts of the 1980s. Nevertheless, more than half of the space is at least 20 years old.

The majority of space in community colleges is used for classrooms (18%), laboratories (18%), and offices (17%) (see Figure 2). The average college has a total of 63 classrooms, of which three-quarters hold fewer than thirty students. Classrooms are scheduled approximately 56 percent of the time during weekdays and almost 65 percent of the time on weekday evenings, making community colleges the only sector in which evening utilization is higher than daytime utilization. The average college also has 38 laboratories, with those for computers (16) and science (12) constituting the vast majority. These are scheduled 51 percent of the available time on weekdays and 55 percent of weekday evenings, paralleling the utilization patterns seen for classrooms. Community colleges also make greater use of their classrooms and laboratories on weekends than do the other sectors.

One method for comparing institutions is to compute the square footage, either gross or net assignable, for each full-time equivalent (FTE) student. For New Jersey’s community colleges, the average gross square feet per FTE student is 85.9; net square footage averages about 60 percent of gross in the sector. A survey by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers (APPA) permits comparison with a sample of county colleges throughout the nation (see Table 1). In 1995-96, they report an average of 76.9 total square feet per FTE student, which is somewhat less than the average for New Jersey's community colleges.4 The range in New Jersey is between 51.1 and 175.3 total square feet per student, compared to a range of 34.6 to 421.6 for the national sample.



State Colleges and Universities

The eight state colleges and universities (Thomas Edison State College is excluded from this portion of the analysis) constitute the only sector in which each institution offers degrees on only one campus. As a whole, the colleges have 10.8 million square feet of buildings on 3,140 acres. The replacement value of the buildings is $1.24 billion, of which three-fifths is for academic buildings. The replacement value for academic buildings averages $129 per square foot; that for auxiliary buildings averages just $78 per square foot.

During the 1960s, the state colleges doubled the size of their facilities as their mission expanded from teacher training to general liberal arts colleges. The largest single decade for construction was the 1970s, when 30 percent of present facilities were constructed, including two new colleges. Although construction declined during the 1980s, the state colleges still managed to construct 15 percent of their campuses during the decade. With institutional and state-backed funding, an additional 2.4 million square feet (22 percent of the total) have been constructed thus far in the 1990s. The building surge in the 1970s and the decline of the 1980s were less pronounced than for the county colleges.

The typical state college campus consists of 221 acres of which 144.9 are improved.5 It has 39 buildings containing 1.3 total million square feet, although the range is from 19 to 51 buildings and from 726,665 to 2,330,106 square feet. Student housing accounts for 29 percent of the net square footage, and student activity and health facilities combined add another 11 percent. Student centers and housing are generally built and maintained without using public funds, with maintenance funded primarily through student charges.

Classrooms and laboratories together make up 17 percent of the total; offices constitute the same amount (see Figure 3). As will be seen later from data for the independent and public research institutions, this allocation of space appears to be typical for institutions with large residential populations. Excluding student health and housing facilities makes the more residential state and independent colleges generally comparable with the county colleges. With these exclusions, classrooms constitute 11 percent of the total, laboratories 15 percent, and offices 25 percent.6

Campuses contain an average of 81 classrooms, the vast majority (75) of which are small or medium (fewer than 50 students). The 65 laboratories and studios are more evenly divided between those dedicated for science (22), computers (17), and art or music (23). Classrooms are scheduled an average 70 percent of the time on weekdays, 56 percent of the weekday evenings, and 13 percent on weekends. Laboratories are scheduled 42 percent of the time on weekdays, 25 percent during the evening, and only 2 percent on weekends.

Compared with the public comprehensive and liberal arts colleges in the APPA survey, New Jersey’s state colleges and universities have fewer square feet per student (227.0) than the average (289.7) for their counterparts in the survey (see Table 1). The range among the eight colleges is between 169.6 and 416.3 square feet per student; the range of the national sample is between 116.9 and 720.3 square feet per student. Other things being equal, campuses with more residential facilities will have higher ratios. Although the national data do not permit comparisons of academic facilities, the New Jersey data do permit such comparisons. For the eight institutions, the median for total academic space per student is 118.6 square feet; the range is between 109.4 and 184.6 square feet per student.7

Public Research Universities

The three public research universities also reflect the growth in higher education during the 1960s and 1970s. Although approximately 22 percent of the facilities were built before the building boom of the 1960s and 1970s, construction during the latter period tripled the capacity from just under 5 million square feet to 16.1 million square feet (see Figure 1). An additional 33 percent of the current 23.1 million square feet was constructed during the 1980s and 1990s.

Rutgers, The State University. Rutgers occupies 6,326 acres, of which 5,102 acres are owned, with the remainder leased. Of the total, 4,137 are associated with Agricultural Experiment Stations and similar operations. The New Brunswick campus of Rutgers contains 2,130 acres, the Newark campus 34 acres, and the Camden campus 25.

Excluding the Agricultural Experiment Stations, Rutgers’ facilities comprise 15.6 million square feet, primarily on the New Brunswick campus. Residential and similar facilities occupy 6.7 million square feet; academic facilities occupy almost nine million square feet. Small classrooms constitute more than half the total. Overall, classrooms are scheduled approximately half the available hours on weekdays and weekday evenings. Use of the 359 instructional laboratories averages slightly more than 50 percent during the day and 44 percent during the evening.

The total replacement value of academic buildings at Rutgers is $1.592 billion. This figure includes $27 million for the outlying campuses and extension centers. The replacement value for academic buildings on the three main campuses is $174 per square foot. The value of auxiliary facilities such as dormitories is $792 million ($118 per square foot). Although both the Camden and New Brunswick campuses contain buildings constructed throughout the century (and before), the Newark campus dates to the 1960s. All campuses expanded significantly during the 1970s, with construction and reconstruction continuing at reduced levels during the 1980s and 1990s.

Overall, 36 percent of buildings on Rutgers’ campuses are used for housing, although most of this is in New Brunswick. Classrooms and instructional laboratories constitute 12 percent; offices, 18 percent; and facilities devoted primarily to research, including 1,420 laboratories, 9 percent. Rutgers’ three campuses make it unique among comparable public research universities, and it is larger than most, even if the Camden and Newark campuses are excluded. Nevertheless, the total building space for each student is slightly less than the average for the 17 peer institutions in the APPA survey, with 414.8 total square feet at Rutgers compared to 424.0 at its peers. (The range for the peers is from 205.3 to 620.5 square feet per FTE. See Table 1) When residential and other auxiliary facilities are excluded, Rutgers provides 238 academic square feet per FTE student.

New Jersey Institute of Technology. NJIT’s 26 buildings sit on 45 acres and contain 2 million square feet, more than half of which was constructed or reconstructed since 1990.8 Two-thirds of the facilities are academic; their replacement value is $315.5 million, or $233 per square foot. This value is significantly higher than that for other sectors, which may reflect the more specialized function of NJIT. The value of the auxiliary facilities is $82.4 million ($123 per square foot). The 98 classrooms are primarily small and medium-sized. Forty percent of the 110 instructional laboratories are for engineering; an additional 38 studios are for departments such as architecture. The classrooms and laboratories represent 23 percent of the usable space on campus. Research facilities, including 94 laboratories, make up an additional 11 percent. Only 17 percent of the campus is devoted to housing.

NJIT’s facilities provide significantly less space per student than the three peers in the APPA survey: 361 square feet per FTE compared to an average of 439 square feet per FTE (see Table 1). Academic space is almost the same as that for Rutgers: 241.5 square feet per FTE. Surprisingly, classrooms are scheduled more heavily during evenings (77 percent of the time) than during the day (42 percent). Laboratories are used 42 percent of the time during the day and 18 percent during evenings.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. UMDNJ operates five campuses, not including affiliated hospitals in which students receive training. All of the campuses comprise 175 acres. The Newark and Piscataway campuses each exceed 60 acres; the Stratford campus is 37 acres; the campuses in Camden and New Brunswick are each less than 5 acres. The Newark campus includes University Hospital, which is operated by the University.

All buildings combined contain slightly more than 5 million square feet, of which 4.1 million square feet are used for academic purposes. The 37 buildings contain 181 classrooms (4 percent of usable space), 92 instructional laboratories (8 percent of usable space), and 731 research laboratories (27 percent of usable space). Office space makes up 37 percent of the total. The University does not offer housing to students. The replacement value for the academic buildings totals $735 million or $178 per square foot; replacement value for auxiliary facilities, primarily University Hospital in Newark, is almost $186 million ($199 per square foot). All of the buildings were constructed or reconstructed after 1950. The single most significant period of construction was the 1970s, when just under 2 million square feet were built. Since 1980, an additional 1.86 million square feet were built or reconstructed.

The APPA survey includes six public medical schools, which report an average of 1,084 total square feet per FTE student (see Table 1). This figure is less than UMD’s five-campus average of 1,320.9 total square feet per FTE student. The reported range is quite wide, from a low of 493.8 to a high of 2,490.4.

Independent Colleges and Universities

The 12 (of 14) institutions that responded to the survey together occupy more than 1,300 acres and 9.6 million square feet. The smallest is 12.4 acres and 176,000 square feet. The most land occupied is 375 acres. The total replacement value is $1.1 billion, of which 63 percent is for academic buildings.9 Replacement value for academic buildings averages $123 per square foot; that for auxiliary buildings is $96 per square foot. Although almost one-third of the buildings were constructed during the 1960s, no one period of time dominates the remaining construction, as is evident from Figure 1.

Each of the institutions offers housing to students, which constitutes one-third of total usable space. Classrooms occupy 11 percent; they are primarily small- and medium-sized, as in other sectors (see Figure 4). Classrooms are used an average of approximately 60 percent of both weekdays and evenings. Instructional laboratories, half of which are for science, represent 6 percent of the average college’s facilities. Laboratories are scheduled 46 percent of weekday hours and 27 percent of evenings. Office space equals the total of classrooms and laboratories combined. The institutions that responded are less devoted to research, as evident from the fact that research laboratories constitute only 2 percent of usable space. As in the state colleges and universities, if student health and housing facilities are excluded, classrooms constitute a greater proportion of the total, 17 percent; laboratories, 9 percent; and offices, 25 percent.

As can be seen from Table 1, the average space per student at the independent participants in the APPA survey is more than 50 percent greater than that at New Jersey’s independent institutions, with 472 square feet per FTE compared to 310 in New Jersey. Moreover, the range reported in the sample is considerably larger than the range reported for New Jersey’s institutions. Many of the institutions in the APPA survey are small residential colleges, however, and their auxiliary facilities increase their total space. Thus, the differences appear to result from differences in patterns of student living rather than from academic space available.10

Funding Since 1980

As is evident from the preceding descriptions and Figure 1, the majority of current facilities were in place by 1980, making 1980 an appropriate starting point for reviewing relatively recent capital funding for higher education. This section looks first at public funding and concludes with an overview of institutional debt for academic buildings.

Public funding takes three forms. First are annual appropriations to address maintenance, renewal, and upgrades, but rarely new construction. Both the state and the counties make such appropriations for their colleges, but the independent institutions do not generally receive funding through annual appropriations. Second, voters may authorize general obligation bond issues, which they did in 1984 and 1988. These two issues benefited all sectors of higher education. The third form consists of state-backed debt that is issued by third parties. The oldest form of this assistance is the Chapter 12 program for county colleges, which was enacted in 1971.11 More recently, the Legislature created the Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund, a $220 million program in which all sectors participated.12

Table 2 provides a summary of the appropriations or allocations made from the different funding sources to each sector since 1980. Because capital projects frequently take many years to complete, the amount actually spent in a year may be more or less than the appropriation or allocation shown in the table.

Annual Appropriations for Capital

Since 1980, state appropriations from the General Fund for capital projects at the public senior colleges and universities totaled $147 million. More than two-thirds of the support came in the 1980s, particularly in the latter years of the decade when the state’s economy and revenues expanded rapidly. There were no appropriations during the first years of the 1990s, which correspond to a sustained recession. Similarly, there were no appropriations in either 1981 or 1983, which were also difficult years for the state’s budget. In sum, as Table 2 indicates, current funding by the state can best be described as episodic, depending in large measure upon the general state of the economy and overall state revenues.

Capital Funding for Higher Education
Fiscal Year 1980 to the Prsent
(thousands of dollars)
State Colleges and Universities
General Fund Capital Jobs, Science,
& Technology Bond1
Jobs, Education,
& Competitiveness Bond1
Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund Self-Financed Debt2
1980 2,000        
1981 -        
1982 2,000       4,020
1983 -        
1984 6,000        
1985 25,750 7,600      
1986 18,850   -   22,435
1987 12,650   -   170,032
1988 19,100 3,000      
1989 16,000        
1990 -       130,690
1991 -   158,454    
1992 -   79,948   78,066
1993 -        
1994 7,745   200   4,628
1995 16,729   - 57,390 2,140
1996 -   6,000 73,800 143,085
1997 2,650   500 9,750 31,982
1998 5,850   - 4,060 38,200
1999 11,750     - 50,000
Total $147,074 $10,600 $245,102 $145,000 $732,230

Community Colleges
Chapter 12 Debt
(total allocations)
Jobs, Science,
& Technology Bond1
Jobs, Education,
& Competitiveness Bond1
Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund County Appropriations
for Capital
1980 -       n/a
1981 -       n/a
1982 -       n/a
1983 -       n/a
1984 -       n/a
1985 - 7,565     n/a
1986 85,800 4,100     n/a
1987         n/a
1988 12,861       n/a
1989 611       n/a
1990 27,700       n/a
1991 10,000   8,320   n/a
1992 -   14,934   6,538
1993 37,000   -   11,009
1994 - 2,900 8,534   992
1995 26,463   - 10,686 10,104
1996 -   - 19,112 10,995
1997 31,701   - 23,717 12,255
1998 9,329   - - n/a
1999 53,793     -  
Total $295,258 $14,565 $31,788 $53,515 $51,893

Independent Colleges and Universities
Jobs, Science,
& Technology Bond1
Jobs, Education,
& Competitiveness Bond1
Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund Self-Financed Debt2
1983       11,690
1985 7,600      
1987       19,356
1988       233
1989       10,500
1990       54,854
1991   6,250   3,000
1992   5,950   42,422
1993   -   28,360
1994   500   26,777
1995   3,700 4,739 68
1996   - 11,516 2,897
1997   1,600 5,231  
1998   340 -  
1999     - 9,025
Total $7,600 $18,340 $21,485 $209,181
Notes: 1 Higher education portion of these bonds only. Appropriations are shown at campus where constructed, regardless of designation.
  2 Depending upon the institution, debt may be issued directly or through the Educational Facilities Authority. Figures for the independent colleges and universities exclude Princeton University and theological institutions.
  "n/a" means data are not available for the year.
  "-" indicates that there was no appropriation or allocation during the year even though the program was in effect.
Sources: General Fund capital appropriations from the State of New Jersey, New Jersey Budget. Trenton, NJ: Office of Management and Budget, various years.
  Acts appropriating money from the Jobs, Science and Technology and Jobs, Education and Competitiveness Bond Funds.
  Chapter 12 allocations from the Board of Higher Education memoranda, various dates, and NJ Council of County Colleges.
  County capital appropriations from NJ Council of County Colleges, County College Fact Book, 1998.
  Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund approvals from NJ Commission on Higher Education memoranda, various dates.
  Self-financed debt provided by institutions and NJ Educational Facilities Authority.

During the same period, the state also made grants to county colleges and, to an extremely limited extent, independent institutions to assist them with capital projects. In the early 1980s, approximately $2 million in general capital appropriations for county colleges was allocated by the Department of Higher Education, but there were no such appropriations after FY 1982. Since then, a total of $6.5 million has been appropriated to five different colleges for specific capital projects. Only in the last two fiscal years have direct capital appropriations been made for independent colleges, and these totaled only $150,000.

By far the largest direct support for county colleges comes from county governments. As can be determined from Table 2, between FY 1992 and FY 1997, counties provided an average of just over $10 million each year. What is not evident, however, is that not all colleges receive such support. On average, ten of the colleges received an appropriation in a given year; the range was between eight and thirteen. Indeed, during the six years, five colleges received no county capital appropriations at all, and one received an appropriation only once. Only four colleges received appropriations in each of the six years, and these varied significantly. Whether the variations stem from differing needs, the ability or willingness of a county to support capital as well as operations, or a combination cannot be readily answered, but it is clear that there is wide variation among the counties.

1984 and 1988 Bond Programs

During the 1980s, the state’s voters authorized two capital programs funded with general obligation bonds. The first of these was the Jobs, Science and Technology program, approved in 1984. Although most of the $90 million went to construct technological research facilities on university campuses, educational facilities did receive $33 million. Of this amount, $23 million was divided equally among the county college, independent, and public four-year sectors. The appropriations were selective, however, going to four public senior institutions, six county colleges, and four independents. The other $10 million was used for two computer-integrated manufacturing centers, one at Camden County College and one at NJIT, and the joint Burlington County College/NJIT technology center in Mount Laurel. With the exception of a molecular biology facility at Princeton University, all of the technological research facilities were constructed at the public research universities. All projects funded through this program are complete.

The second bond authorization was the Jobs, Education and Competitiveness program, approved in 1988. The program reversed the emphasis of the earlier one: $308 million of the $350 million went for educational facilities, including $45 million for capital rehabilitation and renovation at the public four-year institutions. The remaining $42 million was for technological research facilities. With the exception of the $45 million, funding was targeted for new construction, the results of which are evident in the sector profiles. Most of the new construction money required matching funds from the institutions. Funds from this program are not yet completely utilized.

State-Backed Debt Programs

Chapter 12 Debt Service. In 1971, the state enacted this renewable (or debt capacity) program in which the state pays for one-half the debt service on bonds issued by county governments on behalf of county colleges. The total value of bonds outstanding at any one time is limited, but as debt is retired the new capacity can be recycled. When enacted, the total state and county debt capacity was limited to $80 million; in 1985 the limit was doubled; and in 1998 the debt capacity was increased again, to a total of $280 million. Funds may be used for new construction or for capital maintenance, and there is no limitation on the kind of facility that can be built.

By 1982 the Board of Higher Education approved projects encumbering the initial $80 million allocation. In 1985 the Board began the process of periodically allocating the available capacity. That year the Board also began targeting funds for capital renewal and replacement, using $16.6 million of the $80.8 million then available. The allocations for fiscal years 1988, 1989, and 1991 were exclusively for renovations, whereas that for 1990 was for new construction projects in conjunction with funding from the Jobs, Education and Competitiveness Bond Fund (see Table 2). The allocations made by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges since 1995 have been split almost evenly between new construction and renovation, with $64.2 million for the former and $57.1 million for the latter. In sum, 43 percent of the $295 million allocated since 1985 has been for capital renewal and replacement. Since its inception, a total of more than $375 million has been allocated through the Chapter 12 program.

Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund. The Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund is also structured as a debt capacity program, in which the maximum debt outstanding can be $220 million. The Educational Facilities Authority issues revenue bonds backed by an annual state appropriation. The statute also created a Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund Board to review the physical plant needs of the institutions and recommend a plan for the use of additional grants from the fund.13

In addition to being financed through a third party, the trust fund differs from the 1984 and 1988 bond funds in three crucial respects. First, the only limitation on the use of the funds is that they be used for "the cost, or a portion of the cost, of the construction, reconstruction, development, extension, and improvement of instructional, laboratory, communication, and research facilities."14 Second, no match is required, enabling institutions to structure projects to meet their priorities. Finally, it can be renewed with approval by the Treasurer,15 whereas the bond fund programs were limited to their initial authorizations.

Of the initial $220 million, almost half of the funds, $107.5 million, went for new construction.16 An additional 43 percent ($94.7 million) was used for capital renewal and replacement or for more extensive renovation of existing facilities. One objective of many of these projects, but not necessarily the primary one, was to bring the facilities into compliance with new codes and regulations, such as those imposed by various environmental agencies or the Americans with Disabilities Act. An additional $5.6 million was used strictly to comply with codes and regulations. A portion of the grants, $6.5 million or just over 3 percent of the total, was used to acquire and renovate existing facilities. Finally, infrastructure problems were addressed using the smallest portion of the funds, $4.1 million (2 percent). Table 3 summarizes the use of the funds by type of project and sector. The use of the trust funds is broadly consistent with the capital needs identified by the institutions and discussed in the final section of the report.

Institutional Debt

Institutions finance capital spending through their operating and capital budgets, including the direct issuance of debt. Unfortunately, the common data collection efforts such as Grapevine, State Profiles, and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) do not obtain information on capital appropriations or spending.17 Moreover, current accounting practices make it extremely difficult to sort out facilities spending. Therefore, this section looks strictly at institutionally issued (or "own-source") debt as an additional source of capital funds.

Institutions issue debt for both academic and auxiliary facilities. Repayment of the debt comes from institutional revenues, including dedicated fees and general sources. Debt for auxiliary facilities, including dormitories, student centers, parking lots or garages, and athletic facilities, is typically repaid through fees charged to users. Debt for academic facilities may be repaid through earmarked fees or tuition, or the institution may pledge general revenues.

Mechanisms for issuing institutional debt vary. All institutions can issue debt through the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority (EFA). Rutgers, NJIT, UMNDJ, and the private institutions can issue debt on their own but may choose to use the EFA instead. (Rutgers has never used the EFA, and UMDNJ’s use of the Authority has been minimal.) The state colleges issue all of their own-source debt through the EFA. Until 1988, they could issue only "revenue debt" to build auxiliary facilities, but that year a statutory change permitted them to issue "nonrevenue debt" for academic facilities as well. Two county colleges also issued debt through the EFA, but the amounts were minimal.

Institutions issue debt to meet matching requirements or to address institutional priorities not met from other sources. Table 2 summarizes the institutional debt issued for academic facilities at the senior public and independent institutions. Of the $732.2 million issued by the public colleges and universities, Rutgers’ debt accounts for $277.3 million, or approximately 38 percent of the total. UMDNJ issued $190.7 million, or slightly more than 25 percent of the total. Only one of the public senior institutions has not issued debt for academic buildings. The volume of institutional debt is significantly higher than the public-backed long-term financing for the public sector. The independent institutions included on Table 2 have issued relatively less debt, both directly and through the EFA, and much of that shown is accounted for by only three institutions.


Capital Requirements

The preceding discussion provides essential background for the estimates of future needs. As indicated in the introduction, the institutions reporting indicate that they require almost $3.2 billion over the next seven years (see Table 4). Of this amount, new construction totals more than $2.0 billion and represents at least 60 percent of the total in each sector. The next most significant category is preservation projects, defined as those that address the repair, replacement, rehabilitation and upgrade of electrical systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, roofs, security systems, as well as critical repairs to structures themselves. With a total of $547 million, these projects constitute at least 15 percent of the seven-year needs for each sector. At the public research universities, infrastructure needs (water supply, roads, and energy conservation) are almost as significant, reaching 12 percent of the total, but infrastructure is a lesser problem in the other sectors. Projects needed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, life-safety requirements, or environmental codes are proportionately less significant, rarely reaching three percent of a sector’s total needs.

The capital needs are not proportional to the size of the different sectors, as measured by the total academic space in the sector. On one hand, the state colleges and universities reported more than 30 percent of the total capital needs but contain less than 20 percent of the total academic space. Conversely, the public research universities and independent institutions present fewer capital needs than their overall space might suggest. The needs and space for the county colleges are both 20 percent of their respective totals.

Deferred Maintenance

In recent years and as higher education’s physical plant ages, increasing attention has been paid to the problem of deferred maintenance, both nationally and in New Jersey. A 1996 study conducted by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers estimated that the nationwide cost to eliminate deferred maintenance is $26 billion, of which $5.7 billion is urgently required, with public colleges typically having greater needs than their private counterparts.18

As used in the national study as well as the Commission’s survey, "deferred maintenance" refers to maintenance projects from prior years or the current year that were not performed because of insufficient funds or a lower priority. Deferred maintenance includes postponed renewal and replacement activities as well as unscheduled major maintenance.19 It is not a subset of any one of the categories shown in Table 4, although it is subsumed within the total. In other words, deferred maintenance represents the sum of past problems, whereas the capital needs estimates include the cost of remedying past problems as well as future requirements. To emphasize the distinction, the deferred maintenance estimates appear in italics below the capital needs estimates.

New Jersey’s institutions reported a total of $581 million in accumulated deferred maintenance, or 18.5 percent of total capital needs (see Table 4). The problem appears to be proportionately greater at the independent institutions than at the public ones. Almost 25 percent of the total accumulation is at the independent institutions, and deferred maintenance represents more than half of their total capital needs. By contrast, deferred maintenance at the county colleges is less than 10 percent of their total capital needs as well as less than 10 percent of the statewide total.

Moreover, there is significant variation among individual colleges. Some colleges report no deferred maintenance. Others indicate that the problem is significant, as measured against the replacement value of their facilities, their current operating budgets, or the hypothetical length of time it would take them to eliminate the problem at their current rate of spending.

Other Capital Needs Projections

Capital needs have been reported in other contexts. In June 1997, the county colleges reported a five-year need of $592 million, of which $397 million was for new construction and the remainder was for a category called "Renovation/Repair."20 The overall five-year projection is consistent with the seven-year projection in the Commission’s survey, but projections by individual institutions differ between the two surveys.

As part of the state budget process, the public four-year institutions annually provide a seven-year capital improvement plan and budget request to the state’s Capital Budgeting and Planning Commission. In the plan submitted for fiscal years 1999 through 2005,21 the total indicated by the 11 institutions was $2.34 billion, as compared to the $2.25 billion indicated in the Commission on Higher Education’s survey. As reported to the Commission on Higher Education, needs for new construction and environmental remediation were higher than those reported to the Capital Commission; needs for preservation, compliance, acquisition, and infrastructure were lower. Given the difficulty of estimating capital needs over long periods, the general congruence of the totals increases confidence in the overall magnitude in spite of the differences in specific amounts.


Summary and Conclusions

The higher education community, along with state and county governments and the higher education trust fund board, should bear several things in mind as they plan for the future. First, there is a significant investment in facilities at the state’s institutions of higher education, but the physical plant is aging. Many of the buildings are at least 20 years old and may well need renovation even if they have been consistently maintained.

Second, in spite of large infusions of public funds during the past two decades, most of the colleges and universities have found these funds insufficient to maintain the physical plant, as evidenced by the amount of accumulated deferred maintenance. This condition may be in part the result of the 1984 and 1988 bond programs’ emphasis on new construction rather than on preservation and maintenance. Regardless of the source of the problem, it is imperative that deferred maintenance be brought under control and that ongoing maintenance be made a management priority. The Commission has emphasized these priorities every year since its creation.

Third, there are wide variations in the level of capital needs and deferred maintenance, indicating that some colleges have been more successful in constructing and maintaining their physical plants. One can speculate about the reasons for the differences. For example, some institutions may have sufficient tuition revenues to maintain their facilities in the absence of public funds.

Future capital programs should recognize that there are significant differences among institutions in their facility needs. For example, a program that provides funds for deferred maintenance works to the detriment of those institutions that have maintained their plants; conversely, targeting new construction has the reverse impact.

Recent actions recognize the overall need as well as the differences among institutions. In 1998 the Chapter 12 program for community colleges was expanded by $120 million, and the Governor proposed a $550 million Higher Education Preservation and Enhancement Fund for four-year institutions. Allocations from both of these programs emphasize deferred maintenance, but colleges and universities that have addressed these needs may turn to new construction.

The commitment of this additional $670 million is a significant step toward addressing the $3.2 billion need. Future programs should seek to provide a healthy balance between the ongoing maintenance of institutions’ existing physical plants and their need for new construction.


1 The survey was conducted in two phases. Phase I was conducted during the fall of 1997; Phase II during the spring of 1998. Two independent institutions, Princeton and Monmouth Universities, did not respond to either part of the survey. For the survey, institutions were requested to report information for the campuses that they maintain.
2 The term "gross square feet" (GSF) refers to the total floor area available within a building. "Net assignable" square footage (NASF) excludes the area devoted to stairwells, halls, restrooms, and similar uses.
3 The colleges and universities also provided a separate estimate of their deferred maintenance backlog and spending. The backlog totals $581 million, with $52 million budgeted during FY 1997. The capital plan and deferred maintenance requirements are based upon reports from 39 of the 45 institutions. In addition to Princeton and Monmouth, Bloomfield College, Seton Hall University, Mercer County Community College, and Salem Community College were unable to provide these data.
4 Data from APPA: The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, 1995-96 Comparative Costs and Staffing Report for College and University Facilities (Alexandria, VA, 1997) analyzed by Commission staff. The report is available on diskette from the association.
5 The figure for acreage is the median, which is used because the average (mean) is skewed by the extremely large size of Richard Stockton (1,717 acres). However, much of Stockton's campus lies in the Pinelands Preservation area and cannot be improved. With the exception of AcademicGSF per FTE noted below, other descriptions of the typical campus use the mean.
6 The county colleges devote relatively more space to classrooms and laboratories and relatively less to offices. The differences in office space may reflect different faculty configurations, among other factors.
7As with the acreage, one institution is significantly larger than the other seven, making the median a more descriptive figure for the typical campus. The mean is 126.9 AcademicGSF per FTE, but only two institutions exceed this amount.
8 NJIT also offers degrees on the campus of Drew University and in Mount Laurel, on a campus jointly operated with Burlington County College. Campus information for these campuses is reported by the "host" institution, not by NJIT.
9 According to the most recent report of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey (AICUNJ), the total replacement value of facilities at all 14 institutions is $1.5 billion. See AICUNJ, The Report of the Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey to the Governor and State Legislature, September 1998 (Summit, NJ, 1998), p. 15.
10 For example, the GSF/FTE at Fairleigh Dickinson University is 272.75, which is consistent with the 280.84 GSF/FTE at Villanova University.
11 The name of the program stems from its pamphlet law number, i.e., P.L. 1971, c. 12.
12 Two other recently enacted programs provide public funds for specialized equipment and infrastructure. The Equipment Leasing Fund, enacted in 1993 (P.L. 1993, c. 136), made $100 million available for scientific, engineering, technical, computer, communications, or instructional equipment. In 1997, the Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund (P.L. 1997, c. 238) made $50 million available on a 1:1 matching basis for technology infrastructure and related equipment.
13 The board consists of the Chair and Vice Chair of the Commission on Higher Education, and the State Treasurer, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the General Assembly or their designees.
14 The Higher Education Facilities Trust Fund Act, P.L. 1993, c. 375, section 4.
15 The Treasurer must approve the issuance of debt by the Educational Facilities Authority. See section 9.a of P.L. 1993, c. 375.
16 The legislation specified one new construction project, a new building for the law school at Rutgers-Newark ($20 million), and set aside $15 million for South Jersey Economic Development projects. Thus approximately one-third of the amount ultimately spent on new construction was legislatively determined.
17 Grapevine (Illinois State University [Normal, IL]) collects data on state appropriations of tax funds for operating expenses. State Profiles (Research Associates of Washington [Arlington, VA]) collects data on public support for public institutions. IPEDS (National Center for Education Statistics) collects information on finance, staff, enrollment, and other institutional characteristics. The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers collects information on staffing but not overall finance.
18 Harvey H. Kaiser and Jerry S. Davis, A Foundation to Uphold: A Study of Facilities Conditions at U.S. Colleges and Universities (Alexandria, VA: APPA: The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, 1996). The authors note that two factors contribute to an accumulation of deferred maintenance. The first is underfunding of routine maintenance, allowing minor problems to become major considerations. The second is "the failure to take care of major projects to repair and/or restore facilities that have reached the end of their life cycle [emphasis in the original]." (pp. 15-16)
19 "Renewal" is defined as repairing or replacing components or parts of a system; "replacement" is defined as substituting new systems or components for major portions of facilities. See A Foundation to Uphold, p. 16.
20 NJ County College Fact Book and Directory, 6th ed. (Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Council of County Colleges, 1997), Table B-3, N.J. Community College Projected Capital Needs for FY 1998 to FY 2002.
21 State of New Jersey, 1999 Annual Capital Improvement Plan (Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning, April 1998), Section III, pp. 277 to 316.

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