A New Law: Protecting Students from Unsustainable Debt
Legislation (A-1695) was signed by the governor yesterday that aims to help protect students from unreasonably high tuition rates and the substantial post-college debt that often follows.
The bill requires the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) and the Department of Labor (DOL) to establish performance quality standards for career-oriented programs of study offered by postsecondary institutions.
The new law will set standards based on the ratio of the program’s tuition compared to the typical earnings of the specific, identifiable occupation for which the program is designed to prepare students.
OSHE and DOL will enforce these performance quality standards as appropriate for any career-oriented postsecondary education or training program at an institution licensed or approved by the State.
The standards will apply to both credit and non-credit-based career-oriented programs at all postsecondary institutions, including two- and four-year public colleges, private non-profit independent institutions, and proprietary institutions.
Primary sponsors of the bill include Senators Joseph Cryan and Sandra Cunningham, as well as Assemblywomen Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano, and Britnee N. Timberlake.
What are they saying?
“The cost of a college degree and job training schools is a significant expense meant to be an investment in their future career opportunities,” said Senator Cryan. “But these costs can leave them burdened with debt that can be disproportionate to their income potential. They deserve to know what they are paying for and what they can afford.”
“Too many students already struggle to pay off their student loan debt and that stands in the way of their financial security well into their adult lives,” said Assemblywoman Jasey. “Institutions must take into consideration the cost of a program as compared with a student’s anticipated earnings in their chosen career or profession. Through the new law, reasonable performance quality standards will be set, preventing career-oriented courses of study from overcharging students for programs and incurring debt for which they will not earn sufficient salaries to repay.”
“We commend Governor Murphy, the bill sponsors, and our State legislators for their commitment to addressing a root cause behind the student debt crisis that has saddled New Jerseyans with almost $50 billion in outstanding loans,” said New Jersey Citizen Action Financial Justice Director Beverly Brown Ruggia. “This legislation sets a national precedent for creating transparency and ethical standards for training schools and career schools operating in New Jersey. It will ensure these programs are of good quality and priced according to the potential earnings of their graduates.”