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Bergen Lawmaker Wants Comprehensive Competency For NJ College Students

Assemblyman Gary Schaer.
Assemblyman Gary Schaer. Photo Credit: Twitter

New Jersey lawmakers feel college preparedness goes beyond the classroom.

Assembly Deputy Speaker Gary S. Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) have announced plans to introduce a comprehensive legislative package aimed at helping New Jersey residents better navigate the college process before, during and after their time on campus.

“Too many students today are unprepared entering into a higher education system that leads them to incur crushing student loan debt," Schaer said.

"We need to provide a path forward for New Jersey students by allowing them access to college curricula in high school, opening higher education possibilities and exposing them to the academic rigor ahead, and then providing them an option for a debt-free future."

The five-bill package includes: 

  • Reform of the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) loan program 
  • Loan forgiveness
  • Loan-free tuition program
  • College readiness commission and a program that would allow high school students to earn college credits tuition-free

The legislation comes at a moment when student loan borrowers in New Jersey have an average loan balance of $32,700, an amount that exceeds the national average of $29,700, according to a recent report on regional household debt from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“We must offer the next generation the tools to be successful at our colleges and universities," Schaer said. 

"For their sake and our sake as a state, we must develop a more practical, more affordable means of preparing New Jersey’s workforce to compete in the 21st-century global economy.”

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