Following the first of several hearings on a comprehensive package of bills designed to make college in New Jersey more affordable and attainable, the lead sponsors of the package – Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Celeste Riley and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan – released the following statements:
“As colleges and universities across the state are preparing for graduation, we’re hoping that through a series of hearings on our bill proposals we can shine some light on both the success stories at these institutions and the areas where we’re greatly in need of improvement.
“As a legislative body, it’s our responsibility to make sure institutions across the state are aware of best practices and success stories at other schools so they can implement these changes as well.
“Two of our top priorities remain affordability and making sure that students are able to put their degree to good use in finding employment after graduation.
“This may include thinking outside the box and encouraging more students to take advantage of two-year colleges first to minimize costs or pursuing a career at a school like Thomas Edison State College when they’re more certain of the path they want to take in life.
“We’re thankful for the input we heard today and look forward to hearing more ideas from others throughout the state,” said Riley (D-Salem/Gloucester/Cumberland).
“The students we heard from today told us that we need comprehensive solutions to the affordability crisis in our state and we couldn’t agree more. This problem needs to be addressed collaboratively.
“EOF and TAG have been instrumental in helping low and middle income students succeed in New Jersey and we need to be mindful of that. Every student deserves the opportunity to realize their dream of graduation. I also understand their frustration in trying to get out into the workforce and repay their college debt.
“If they can’t find gainful employment with the degree they’ve gotten upon graduation, then we have another significant problem. This delays their ability to repay college debt, move up the ladder sooner, earn more sooner, and contribute to society and pay taxes sooner.
“It’s a cyclical economic issue that we need to address together. I’m hopeful these hearings will continue to shed more light on ways we can address these challenges,” said Cryan (D-Union).