(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Louis Greenwald, Angela McKnight and Pamela Lampitt to teach high school students about state and federal tuition assistance programs to help reduce the financial burden of college tuition, and ensure they are making informed decisions when applying for college financial aid.
The bill (A-2773) would mandate that starting with the 2018-2019 ninth grade class, the high school graduation requirement on financial literacy include instruction on available state and federal tuition assistance programs, including grants, scholarships, and student loans. The instruction must also incorporate issues associated with student loan debt, the requirements for repayment of that debt, and the consequences of the failure to repay student loan debt in a timely manner.
“The typical young adult graduating from a New Jersey college last year left owing more than $28,000 in student loans. That is a lot of debt for someone who is just starting out,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “Educating our college-bound students about the resources out there, and the responsibilities that come with taking on loans, well before they start the college application process, will help them make better decisions and prevent credit problems down the road that can have lasting effects.”
“Many students apply to college without fully understanding the financial responsibility that awaits them once they graduate,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “This is the time when many young people start building up their credit. How they handle repayment can help or hurt their credit scores. This would not only teach them about the financial resources available to them at the state and federal level, but also about the repayment requirements and the consequences of defaulting on their loans.”
“Very few people can afford to attend college without assistance,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “Teaching students about the types of state and federal financial aid that they can apply for can help make college more affordable. Teaching them about loan repayment expectations and the repercussions of defaulting on their loans can help prevent financial problems that can follow them into adulthood.”
The bill would also provide that a school district must ensure that a student enrolled in high school meets with a guidance counselor during either the second or third year of high school to discuss state and federal tuition assistance programs that may be available to the student to finance postsecondary educational opportunities.
The guidance counselor must also discuss options available to the student for dual enrollment in high school and an institution of higher education that will enable the student to earn college credit while still in high school and reduce the overall cost of a higher education.
The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee.