Monday, March 31, 2008

Another look at income

In early March, I discussed true poverty in New Jersey. Today, I'd like to take a brief look at the real middle class:
The NJ STARS program pays college tuition and fees for high schoolers who finish in the top 20 percent of their class -- starting with two years at community college followed by the chance to move to a four-year public school.

But it has grown so large and costly that it has become a target for a budget cut by Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who has proposed excluding students from families who earn $90,000 or more.

The change, part of the budget paring Corzine proposed last month, would put a cap on a program that in its first four years won rave reviews from lawmakers and students for keeping bright graduates in New Jersey and making college affordable.

"The STARS program has been a grand slam homer," said Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex, chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. "We should do everything we can to preserve it as is, in my mind."
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Diegnan said that in New Jersey, $90,000-a-year is still a middle class income.
At first blush, $90,000 seems like quite a bit. But when you consider that is just $45,000 per year per adult in a two parent home, well, that kind of seems like middle class. I noted that $44,824 in 2005 dollars ($48,586 adjusted for 2008) in Middlesex county was the minimum self-sufficiency standard for a family of four with two adults. A family of four earning $90,000 is not even double $48,500 (that's a little math for you math fans out there).

Furthermore, keep in mind that Standford University is offering free tuition for families who make less than $100,000.

I wonder if salary increases have kept up with inflation. My gut reaction is no, and if I did the research I doubt my answer would change. It's a terrible thought to think that a family of four making $60,000 combined is probably not middle class.

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