TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew and Senator Steve Oroho that would establish the Garden State Young Farmers Loan Redemption Program in Higher Education Student Assistant Authority cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee today.
The bill, S-1397, would redeem a portion of eligible student loan expenses for each year of full-time employment as a famer. The Higher Education Student Assistant Authority would offer the loan redemptions for up to ten students each year.
Eligibility of participation in the program would require the applicant to: be a resident of the state and maintain residence in the state during participation, have successfully completed an approved course of study within a two-year period prior to applying, have an outstanding balance with a state or federal student loan program and not be in default, and operate, or plan to operate, a farm in the state on a full-time basis.
“The increase of wineries and organic farms has fueled a surge of beginner farmers in New Jersey,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “This program would create more opportunities for more young farmers within the Garden State.”
The bill would require program participants to enter into a written contract with the Higher Education Student Assistant Authority specifying the required operation of a farm and the total amount of eligible amount of student loan expenses to be redeemed by the state in return for service.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-0, and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.