Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano, and Britnee Timberlake aims to protect students in New Jersey from acquiring unsustainable levels of student loan debt by creating a performance quality standard for career-oriented programs of study. The bill was recently advanced by the full Assembly, 46-31-1, and Senate, 21-17, sending it to the Governor’s desk.
1.3 million New Jersey residents currently owe approximately $48.8 billion in federal and private student loan debt. This is part of a larger, national issue as total student loan debt in the United States amounts to nearly $1.75 trillion.
Under the bill (A-1695), the Secretary of Higher Education and the Department of Labor would be responsible for setting a performance quality standard for career-oriented programs at all schools, including institutions of higher education, degree-granting proprietary institutions, and private career schools. These standards must consider the tuition and fees charged to students in the program compared to the average earnings of workers employed in the specific occupation for which the program prepares students.
If a program fails to meet the minimum acceptable level of performance, the Secretary of Higher Education and the Department of Labor are required to suspend or revoke the institution’s license or accreditation to offer the program or certificate of approval.
Assemblywomen Jasey (D-Essex, Morris), Quijano (D-Union), and Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic) issued the following joint statement:
“Too many students already struggle to pay off their student loan debt and that stands in the way of their financial security well into their adult lives. Institutions must take into consideration the cost of a program as compared with a student’s anticipated earnings in their chosen career or profession.
“Through this legislation, reasonable performance quality standards will be set, preventing career-oriented courses of study from overcharging students for programs and incurring debt for which they will not earn sufficient salaries to repay.”