Bill is Latest in Assembly Democratic Effort to Control Higher Education Costs
(TRENTON) — Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Joseph A. Lagana and Mila M. Jasey issued a multimedia package Tuesday on legislation they sponsored to encourage New Jersey’s colleges and universities to offer baccalaureate degree programs that cost no more than $10,000 in tuition and fees.
The bill (ACR-220) comes after a number of institutions of higher education in other states, including Texas and Florida, have taken measures to make attending college more affordable by developing $10,000 baccalaureate degree programs.
The multimedia package consists of the sponsors discussing their legislation and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of the members’ comments is appended at the end of the release.
“The cost of attending an institution of higher education continues to increase, and many New Jersey students and their families find it difficult to afford the tuition and fees required for enrollment,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “We’ve worked hard over the last several months to pass higher education reform bills, and this is another piece of that effort. A person’s level of education continues to be one of the most significant factors in determining his economic well-being. With many highly-skilled workers competing for a limited number of job openings, it’s imperative that high school graduates be able to afford to attend college and attain the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century workplace.”
“College tuition has increased at a rate faster than inflation for approximately 30 years, which has resulted in record-high student loan debt,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), who chairs the Assembly Higher Education Committee that released the bill. “Offering baccalaureate degree programs that cost no more than $10,000 in tuition and fees will greatly increase the ability of New Jersey students to attend an institution of higher education, acquire the training needed to secure good, high-paying jobs, minimize student loan debt and become productive members of their communities.”
“The statistics surrounding college loan debt are startling,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “At approximately $1.2 trillion, total student loan debt has exceeded the total national credit card debt. That’s completely unacceptable. Higher education needs to be affordable and a gateway to a better future, not decades of financial struggle. If we’re to help our hard-working families, we need to consider every alternative to creating an affordable higher education.”
According to a 2011 United States Census Bureau report, a person who graduates from college with a baccalaureate degree will earn, over the course of a lifetime, $2.4 million, which on average is $1 million more than a person with only a high school diploma.
Yet, in its ninth annual report on student loan debt issued in November of 2014 the Institute for College Access and Success found that nearly seven in 10 college seniors who graduated in 2013 left school with an average of $28,400 in student loan debt, an increase of 2 percent over 2012.
Also, according to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, for the 2014-15 academic year the average annual cost of tuition and fees for a full-time, in-state, undergraduate student enrolled in a four-year public institution of higher education is $12,894, and the average annual cost of tuition and fees for a full-time undergraduate student enrolled in an independent institution of higher education in New Jersey is $35,084.
Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), Assembly Education Committee Vice-Chair:
“Well, college affordability is one of the critical issues that we’re dealing with on behalf of middle class families all throughout New Jersey.
“The ability for us to find a way to not just subsidize costs but to effectively reduce the cost of obtaining a college degree is critically important to the success of the young men and women of our state.”
Assemblyman Joseph A. Lagana (D-Bergen):
“You know, what we’re really looking to do is encourage our colleges and universities to offer $10,000 programs for bachelor degrees because, what studies have shown, is people who complete college have an earning capacity which is about a million and a half more than a person who doesn’t go to college.”
“A $10,000 college degree, based on the work that’s been done by some other states, has been shown to be an effective price tag that a college degree can be delivered upon.”
Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey (D-Essex), Higher Education Committee Chair:
“The intent of the resolution is to generate a real conversation and discussion about what we can do to lower college costs.
“As you know, one of the biggest problems young people are facing today – and families – is the rising amount of debt that students have when they finish college. So students are coming out of college with more debt than they can earn in a year, in terms of salaries. We need to address this. We need to try to find creative ways to reduce it and perhaps, by asking our colleges to pay attention to this idea, we can get some innovative ideas.
“Sometimes you have to light a fire to get people to pay attention and that’s really what this resolution is trying to do.”
“In many recent studies it’s been shown that there’s a dearth of college educated men and women that’ll be able to fulfill the jobs that are necessary especially in the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] fields that’ll be moving forward by 2020. It is an economic imperative for our country and for our state to make sure we can sustain economic growth that is inclusive of all New Jerseyans.
“I’m hoping this sparks a conversation, ideally with our institutions of higher education, along with the Legislature, to look at ways, not only to reduce costs but also enhance the quality of education. I think if we can start that conversation with this resolution I’m hopeful in the near future we’ll actually be able to get a product that will be able to be deliverable.”