Cunningham, Pou Bill to Help Students Graduate on Time Passes Senate

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, was passed by the Senate today.

“We are working aggressively to do all we can for our college students. The four year graduation rate for college students in the state is currently, as low as 42 percent, and that is an issue,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “The faster students are able to graduate from college, the faster they can start their careers and pay off their debt. If we want our college students to graduate on time, there must be a safeguard in place to keep them on track.”

The bill, S-760, requires undergraduate students at all colleges and universities that receive State Tuition Aid Grants to meet with an appropriate academic official 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 their 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 before the completion of 30 credits.

“Attending college is a serious financial commitment,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Pursuing a four year degree often leaves most young adults paying off student loans into their 30s and 40s. The goal is to help students graduate in four years rather than five or six so they can pay significantly less for their education.”

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 passed the Senate by a vote of 36-0.