Legislation requiring transparency of student debt passes through NJ legislature
By Haley Nakonechny
Bill S-1877 is currently passing through the New Jersey Legislature, which would require higher education institutions to provide transparency in tuition and fees to prospective and current students.
With the bill passed out of the Senate by a 33-0 vote on January 11, it is now awaiting Assembly approval before being sent to the governor’s office.
New Jersey State Senators Shirley Turner and Nellie Pou drafted this bill with the goal of helping students become financially independent after graduation by remaining aware of their debt throughout of the University.
Under current law, the College and other universities in the state are only required to provide this information to prospective students and veterans in order to determine what their tuition is likely to cost during their time spent at study at university. If passed, this bill will change that in the future.
“The college fundraising plan is only required for veterans and new freshmen,” said Luke Sacks, media relations manager at the college. “Based on the advice we received from the NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority this year and in anticipation of the passage of this law, we will make the college funding plan available to all students as part of the process. their official award notices. “
Due to this requirement, students currently no longer receive this information throughout their academic career. As a result, many students graduate without really knowing what their debt entails. Changes in financial situation or the length of studies can greatly affect the amount of debt with which a student will graduate.
“It is important that we make sure that our students know their financial aid status throughout college, and not just as they enter college,” Senator Nellie Pou wrote in a press release regarding the project. law. “A lot can happen in four years and they need to be aware of any changes that might affect them financially. We hope that college students will be better informed about their aid status and be ready to repay their debt upon graduation. “
According to the Chamber of Commerce, 60% of the country’s students graduate with some form of debt. Currently, 44.5 million Americans have student debt. At college alone, 5,216 students received financial aid for the 2020-2021 academic year, or 79% of the current undergraduate student body, according to Sacks.
With the current debt crisis hitting $ 1.5 trillion, this bill would help students be more financially aware of the debt they are taking on.
“[This bill] will help them with their college budgeting process, ”Sacks said. “Students will have a summary document that will include a breakdown of all potential costs for the upcoming academic year as well as a breakdown of all grants, loans and scholarships to which they are eligible.”
In addition to describing aid, loans and grants for students, the bill would also include a breakdown of the following: tuition, room and board, student fees, books and materials, transportation and other costs. relevant educational.
For students like Hannah Coward, a junior arts education student, this bill could be of great help if signed.
“It’s important to see a breakdown of the tuition, because it shows how what we pay is being redistributed across the institution,” Coward said. “Knowing where my money is going will give me some peace of mind and help me feel better prepared to pay it back after graduation.”