Quijano, Lampitt, Riley & Vainieri Huttle Bill Requiring Distribution of Student Loan Payment Info Advanced by Assembly Panel

U.S. DOE Report on Cost of College Listing NJ Schools Among Costliest in Nation Further Proof of Legislation’s Importance

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Annette Quijano, Pamela Lampitt, Celeste M. Riley and Valerie Vainieri Huttle that would require educational brochures on college loan repayment schedules to be created and distributed to high school students was released last week by an Assembly committee.

“Many college-bound students and their families fail to realize how burdensome student loan debt can truly be until they receive their first repayment book after graduation, which often has monthly payments in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Providing critical education before they sign loan documents can help students graduate without being mired in debt.”

The measure (A-1083) would direct the state Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to create a document that will serve to educate high school students about college loan repayment schedules. The HESAA would be required to post the document on its website and distribute it annually to public and nonpublic high schools. School districts and nonpublic high schools would be required to disseminate the document to high school juniors and seniors annually.

The sponsors said their legislation was especially necessary and timely after an annual report issued in June 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education listed several New Jersey public colleges as among the most expensive in the nation. The New Jersey Institute of Technology and The College of New Jersey ranked fifth and eleventh most expensive public colleges in the nation, respectively, in terms of tuition and fees. Rowan University ranked fourth most expensive in terms of net price – a calculation that factors in the cost of room, board, books and how many students get scholarships, grants and financial aid.

The document would include examples of monthly and annual loan payments required for various types of student loans, based on differing principal loan amounts and current interest rates, the time period it would take to fully repay those loans based on various monthly or annual payment installments, definitions of fixed rate loans, variable rate loans, and consolidation loans, and the consequences of defaulting on a student loan.

“With a concerning trend of growing student debt loads, it is critical that students receive information on how to manage their student loans intelligently and effectively,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “I am hopeful this legislation will educate students on how they can protect themselves financially while seeking a top-notch education.”

“With New Jersey families pinching every penny possible nowadays, having as much information as possible when making financial decisions is critical,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem), Chairwoman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “This document can provide parents and students with the ability to assess the real, long-term costs of a college education.”

“While a college education is priceless in terms of opportunities and experiences, it is also extremely expensive in terms of financial resources. The cost of higher education has dramatically and disproportionately increased in recent years,” said Vainieri-Huttle (D-Bergen). “Students and their families must be aware of the financial realities of college so they can make smart, informed decisions about what schools they choose to attend and how they finance their education.”

The bill was released unanimously by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.