Legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Gordon M. Johnson, Daniel Benson, Wayne P. DeAngelo, Andrew Zwicker and Joann Downey to encourage veterans and members of the military to pursue higher education goals was advanced by a Senate committee on Thursday.
The bill (A-1757) would require public institutions of higher education to waive or reimburse their application fees and fees for the receipt or transmission of a transcript for veterans, members of the Armed Forces of the United States, the Reserve components thereof or members of the New Jersey National Guard who reside in New Jersey and accept admission to a public institution of higher education.
“These are real-life heroes who too often come home to face financial troubles despite their great sacrifice to our nation,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “A college education is the gateway to a better future, so this simple step is the right thing to do for our veterans and members of the armed forces.”
“Those who serve in our military deserve every break we can give them for their enduring service to our country,” said Tucker (D-Essex), chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “An opportunity to further their education will help them to continue making invaluable contributions to our country.”
“Our veterans and military are the pride of our nation,” said Johnson (D-Bergen), who served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 30 years, including two combat tours. “These men and women have defended our freedom with bravery and courage. Let’s do what we can to help them achieve their academic goals.”
“Members of our military place their lives on the line so that each of us may have the privilege to live as we choose,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We now have an opportunity to show our gratitude by relieving some of the financial burden that comes with pursuing a higher education.”
“For their sacrifice and dedication, members of our military deserve any advantage we can provide to encourage their endeavors in higher education,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex), vice-chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “A simple yet meaningful action, this bill would extend a well-earned courtesy to our most honorable New Jersey citizens.”
“This legislation can provide an incentive for more men and women with military experience to take the first step toward attending an institution of higher learning,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Our state’s colleges and universities can benefit from having more veterans on their campuses, and earning a degree can help those who have served transition to civilian careers, so this is a win-win.”
“Individuals who are going from combat to college need to know that New Jersey’s college and universities welcome their presence,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Waiving these fees is one small way our state can let veterans know that there’s a place for them on campus.”
The bill, which gained unanimous Assembly approval in February, was advanced by the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.