CRYAN, DIEGNAN, BARNES & MORIARTY’S ‘COLLEGE STUDENTS’ BILL OF RIGHTS’ NOW LAW

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen Joseph Cryan, Patrick J. Diegnan Jr, Peter J. Barnes III and Paul Moriarty sponsored to ensure prospective college students and their families can access to comprehensive information on a school’s costs, graduation rates and faculty is now law.

“Deciding which college to attend is one of the most important decisions any person will ever make, yet too many students are forced to make that decision in an informational vacuum,” said Cryan (D-Union). “The true costs of attending a college, its graduation rates and basic information about faculty must be provided in a simple, concise fashion.”

“Prospective students and their families shouldn’t have to dig endlessly for basic yet vitally important information about a school,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex).

The bill was signed Thursday by Senate President-acting Gov. Stephen Sweeney.

Under the bill (A-2911) – the “New Jersey College Student and Parent Information Act” – each four-year public college and university in the state would be required to provide on its Web site and in hard-copy with each paper application comprehensive information, including:

·The cost for the current academic year of attending the institution including tuition, student fees, room and board, and books and materials;
·The total projected costs for an incoming freshman who either lives on-campus or commutes to complete their degree in both four and six years;
·Average student loan indebtedness for four-year and six-year graduates, both on-campus and commuter;
·Four- and six-year graduation rates, including break-downs for each major and demographic group, and for student-athletes;
·A school’s student transfer rate, including an overview of the institutions to which former students have transferred prior to the completion of their degree;
·An overview of the institution’s faculty, including the percentage of faculty employed as a tenured professor, the percentage of faculty employed as a full-time non-tenured professor, and the percentage of faculty employed as an adjunct or visiting professor.

All information would be required to be annually updated. College and university Web sites also would be required to link to an Internet page provided by the state Commission on Higher Education that would provide comparative information for all four-year public schools in the state.

As part of the application process, all four-year public institutions of higher education would be required to obtain from a parent or guardian of a prospective student – or the student if over age 18 – a signed statement acknowledging that they have reviewed the school’s student consumer information report.

“It is unconscionable that we require greater disclosure from car dealers than we do from our four-year colleges and universities,” said Barnes (D-Middlesex). “With students and families facing the very real prospect of mountains of debt, we need to ensure they are equipped to make decisions that will make sense not just now, but years into the future.”

“Our colleges want students who will enter their institutions with eyes wide open,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “It’s ironic that those same students are forced to make the decision of where to attend school with blinders on.”

The new law was previously passed unanimously by the Assembly in June 2008 and 36-0 by the Senate on Monday.

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