(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Sgt. Robert Andrzejczak, Celeste Riley, Vincent Mazzeo, Troy Singleton, Wayne P. DeAngelo and Daniel R. Benson that would allow veterans attending a public college or university in New Jersey to pay in-state tuition rates received approval from an Assembly panel on Thursday.
The bill (A-2622) provides that a veteran attending a public institution of higher education living in New Jersey or who seeks and obtains residency status by the third year of education at an institution of higher education, thereby enabling him or her to pay an in-state tuition rate. The legislation is referred to as the New Jersey Tuition Equality for America’s Military (NJTEAM) Act.
“For my fellow veterans, the transition to civilian life can be challenging,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), a U.S. Army veteran who served and was wounded in Iraq. “With this bill, we’ll be rightfully giving veterans a helping hand and showing respect for their sacrifices and bravery protecting our freedoms. An education is the road to a better future, so let’s make it easier for our veterans – who have given so much to our country – to obtain one.”
“We owe so much to our veterans,” said Riley (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem), Assembly Higher Education Committee chair. “We know an education opens the doors to employment and success, and with recent statistics showing the unemployment rate for veterans who have served since 9/11 at 10 percent, we have to do more to make it easier for our veterans to pursue higher education. This is one way to try to accomplish this worthy goal.”
“Our nation’s veterans need to know that New Jersey welcomes all who have so valiantly served their country,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “No matter where they’re from originally, this bill represents our invitation for these honorable men and women to call our state home.”
“Veterans deserve our best, and this is a reasonable thing to do to help them build a better future when they return home,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This bill could prove to be big step toward giving our veterans a better opportunity to earn a degree and all the benefits that come with a college education.”
“Our colleges can certainly benefit from having the distinguished men and women who have served in our armed forces on their campuses,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation will make it easier for them to receive an education here, but there’s no doubt that New Jersey attracting veterans to our schools will add to the overall quality of our state. It’s truly a win-win.”
“As the patriotic men and women who served our nation transition back into civilian life, the very least we can do is make sure they can find good jobs that pay well,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “With this bill, in a spirit of gratitude for their service, we help enable all veterans to get a degree and ease that transition.”
For the purposes of the bill, a veteran is a person who served in the Reserves and on active duty in the armed forces of the United States and was honorably discharged or released.
The bill was released from the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs.