(TRENTON) – The Assembly Education Committee advanced Bill A-3319 today, which seeks to establish a groundbreaking three-year pilot program with the Department of Education (DOE), offering participating 12th grade students a guided start to postsecondary courses. Sponsored by Assemblywomen Angela McKnight and Pamela R. Lampitt, this bill would help develop dual enrollment programs in six districts. Dual enrollment programs enable high school students to take college-level courses that count towards both their high school and college degrees.
The bill would require the Education Commissioner to select two school districts from each state region – central, north, and south – with the goal of finding schools across rural, suburban, and urban areas that have been substantially affected by COVID-19, have a high proportion of economically disadvantaged students, and have low rates of college enrollment.
“As prices of higher education rise, we have to think outside the box on how to get students interested in postsecondary education without piling on debt,” said Assemblywoman McKnight (D-Hudson). “By offering low-cost courses and targeted counseling, we are investing in the success of these students, and paving the way for a more equitable education system.”
A program like this would create a shift in the educational landscape, ushering in a new era of accessibility and support for students transitioning to postsecondary education. Designed to start during the students’ senior year, the pilot program would create a framework for students to explore postsecondary work without financial barriers. Districts selected would receive grants that would cover the cost of the program and tuition, stipulating the waiver of all charges by the higher education institution with the exception of a maximum fee of $100 per credit for each student.
“We recognize the power of higher education, and how it can shape the future for many students but to get there, we have to find new and unique ways to make college accessible,” said Assemblywoman Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “This bill will break down the barriers many students face when considering their next steps after graduation, providing them with support that can guide them to a better postsecondary experience.”
At the completion of the program, the DOE would submit a report to the Governor and Legislature with information on the implementation of the program and a recommendation on the feasibility of implementing the program statewide.
The bill received a unanimous vote of 7-0.