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Cunningham Bill To Address High Cost Of College Tuition Approved In Senate

Senator Cunningham listens to advice from colleague Senator Sacco

Legislation Would Study Causes of Tuition Increases at New Jersey’s Institutes of Higher Education

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham that would study and make recommendations to the Legislature and the Governor on ways to combat rising college tuition rates in New Jersey was unanimously approved yesterday by the State Senate.

“With the continued rise of tuition and fees, it is becoming harder for New Jersey’s middle-class families to afford to send their children to college,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson, and chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “It is imperative that we discover the root cause of these tuition hikes and determine a plan to tackle the problems head on. I look forward to hearing the committee’s report so we can determine a plan to ensure all New Jersey students have access to our excellent higher education system in the state.”

The bill, S-1871, would establish a Commission on College Tuition that would be tasked with determining why college tuition rates have increased in the Garden State as well as examining how funding to New Jersey’s colleges and universities has changed over the past ten years and why tuition levels vary across different sectors of higher education.

In its study released earlier this week, the College Board reported that New Jersey now has the third highest rate of college tuition in the United States with only New Hampshire and Vermont charging more for higher education. The report also reveled that tuition costs increased in the Garden State an average of $400 this year.

Senator Cunningham noted that this report’s results are even more worrisome since they come on the heels of The Project on Student Debt’s report stating that New Jersey now has the tenth highest rate of student loan debt in the nation, with an average New Jersey undergraduate student graduating with $27,610 in student loans.

“Our students deserve to be able to get an education, graduate and get a job without the burden of expensive loan repayments keeping them from getting ahead. But as tuition rates rise, New Jersey students will have to continue to find ways to pay for college, which could mean increased debt,” said Senator Cunningham. “Finding a way to manage these growing costs will go a long way to ensure that our students can afford to get a higher education in years to come.”

The Commission would consist of seven members including a representative of the Secretary of High Education and six representatives from the higher education community appointed by the Governor. The panel would be required to issue a final report to the Legislature and the Governor within six months of its organizational meeting.

The bill now heads to the Assembly.