Senate Clears Cunningham Bill To Study NJ High School Grads’ Out-Of-State College Migration

Sandra Bolden Cunningham (D-Hudson)

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Sandra B. Cunningham that would direct the State Secretary of Higher Education to conduct a study to determine the extent and cause of out-migration of high school graduates to out-of-state colleges was approved today by the Senate.

“Because so many of New Jersey’s stellar school districts are considered prime feeder schools, out-of-state college recruiters divert thousands of our high school graduates away from our state colleges and universities,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson).  “We need to find ways to keep our best and brightest here in New Jersey’s higher education institutions – which are among the best in the nation – and hopefully channel them into leadership roles in our state businesses and industries to grow the economy.”

The bill, S-518, requires the Secretary to prepare and submit a report of the study’s findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature within 18 months of the bill’s effective date. The report would include an overview of the extent of the out-migration of New Jersey high school graduates, the secretary’s findings on the reasons for the out-migration, and the secretary’s analysis of what, if any, actions the State might take to reverse the flow of students to out-of-state institutions.

The bill would require the study to include but not be limited to:

  • a survey of high school seniors enrolled in public and nonpublic schools in the state to determine the reasons why a student might choose an out-of-state institution;
  • a review of the academic characteristics of students who choose an in-state institution and students who choose an out-of-state institution;
  • a review of the socio-economic characteristics of the families of students who choose an in-state institution and the families who choose an out-of-State institution;
  • a review of the academic quality of the out-of-state institutions in which New Jersey high school graduates choose to enroll and a comparison of the academic ranking of those institutions with New Jersey’s public and independent institutions of higher education;
  • a survey of and consultation with public and nonpublic high school guidance counselors on the reasons for the out-migration of high school graduates;
  • an analysis of the extent to which the out-migration of high school graduates is impacted by the small geographic size of the state and the desire of college students to experience independent living at a distance from their families; and
  • a review of available literature and data on the out-migration of high school graduates in New Jersey and other states.

The Senate approved the bill with a 38-0 vote.