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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Jack Conners, Herb Conaway M.D., Annette Quijano, Paul Moriarty and Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. are encouraging all New Jersey institutes of higher learning to join the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium.

Their bill (ACR-94) pushing for the step was recently approved 78-0 by the Assembly and 39-0 by the Senate in February. As a concurrent resolution, which expresses the policy or opinions of the Legislature, it doesn’t require the governor’s signature.

“Active duty deployment requires many sacrifices for the service men and women fighting to protect our freedoms,” said Conners (D-Camden/Burlington), the chairman of the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “However, thanks to organizations like the SOC Consortium, a college education doesn’t have to be one of them.”

Founded in 1972, the consortium serves as a vehicle to help coordinate voluntary postsecondary educational opportunities for service members who are having trouble completing college degrees due to the frequent relocations required of active duty military personnel. The consortium currently consists of more than 1,800 colleges and universities nationwide, including 27 in New Jersey. The resolution requests and encourages each and every institution of higher learning in New Jersey to seek membership in the SOC Consortium.

“Encouraging New Jersey’s colleges and universities to joint the consortium will help provide educational opportunities to our military men and women no matter where they’re stationed,” said Conaway (D-Burlington/Camden). “Anything we can do to help ease the burden of service for these brave men and women is worth doing.”

“Service men and women seeking to improve their education should not be penalized because of their military obligations,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Encouraging New Jersey colleges and universities to become a part of the consortium will allow service members to continue their higher education no matter where in the state they’re stationed.”

“The men and women serving our country and defending our freedom should not be penalized,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Every college and university should join this effort and do what it takes to ensure our soldiers can transition from the battlefield to the classroom and earn a degree that we all know can open doors to a brighter future.”

“A college degree is a key to a better future,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex), the Assembly Education Committee chairman. “We need to do whatever we can to ensure those who devote themselves to defending our freedom also have access to that key. It’s the right thing to do.”

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