Cunningham, Pou Bill to Help Students Graduate on Time Clears Committee

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Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Higher Education Chair Sandra B. Cunningham and Senator Nellie Pou, which would require certain students to develop and file a degree plan, cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee today.

“We must do more for our college students. There is no reason only 42 percent of college students in New Jersey should be graduating within four years,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Each year a student is in school they are falling deeper in debt and putting off their entry into the workforce. This legislation will expand the resources available for students to make graduating on time more accessible.”

The bill, S-760, would require undergraduate students at public colleges and universities to meet with an academic adviser and outline the requirements of their degree program along with a plan to meet those requirements.

At four year schools students would be required to meet with the advisor sometime between when they start school and when they complete 45 credit hours. At county colleges students would be required to set their degree plan when they begin school.

“Pursuing a four year degree is a serious financial commitment, one that leaves most young adults with loan payments into their 30s and 40s,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “While we continue working to make college more affordable, one way to reduce what students pay is by helping them finish their degree within four years, rather than five or six.”

The bill would require schools to develop graduation progress benchmarks for each major, which would specify credit and course criteria that indicate satisfactory progress towards a degree. If a student fell behind on a benchmark they would be required to meet with an academic advisor prior to their next course registration.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.