Governor Murphy signs bill to protect students from unsustainable debt after completing post-secondary vocational training

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The new consumer protection law will ensure that tuition fees in career-oriented higher education programs can be affordably reimbursed with expected wages in the professions for which students have been trained

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation (A-1695) to help protect students from unreasonably high tuition fees that would be difficult to repay based on the wages they are likely to earn after having completed a career-oriented education or training program. The bill will require the Office of the Secretary for Higher Education (OSHE) and the Department of Labor (DOL) to set performance quality standards for career-oriented degree programs offered by post-secondary institutions.

“Higher education programs designed to prepare students for a specific profession should offer both high-quality education and affordable costs based on the salaries graduates of the program are likely to earn,” said Governor Murphy. “By setting performance quality standards for career-focused education and training programs, we will protect students from unreasonable student debt that they simply cannot repay on the typical career salary. for which they studied. This is an important milestone that I am proud to take as my administration continues its work to make higher education more affordable for everyone in our state.

“This legislation, by raising the quality standards of college programs and strengthening consumer protections, is an important step toward advancing New Jersey’s higher education goals and the state’s vision for greater academic achievement. students”, said Dr. Brian K. Bridges, Secretary of Higher Education. “By establishing this framework for evaluating student outcomes in career-focused programs, New Jersey will serve as a model for other states and send a clear signal to stakeholders that the Garden State is taking direct action to improve student outcomes. students by holding institutions accountable. for the education they provide.

“We are proud to have these high paying employment standards in New Jersey,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “Now we are better able to protect the thousands of people who seek training to advance their careers and, at the same time, the hundreds of training providers who follow the rules and prepare their students for work without profiting from it. No one should have to borrow so much for their professional training that they cannot afford to pay it back once they get into the job they prepared for.

“This important legislation will protect students from unsustainable debt in education and training programs designed for specific professions,” said David J. Socolow, executive director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA). “Furthermore, it will protect New Jersey Student Aid scholarships by eliminating funding for degree programs whose tuition does not match the salaries students would reasonably expect to earn after completing the program. “

“Higher education has long been a ladder to prosperity and success, and for many New Jersey students, paying for that education is one of the biggest financial investments they will make,” said Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “Legislation signed into law today by Governor Murphy will help ensure that students get a fair return on that investment by requiring institutions of higher education to deliver quality programs that will advance student opportunities.

“The success of New Jersey students as they transition from K-12 and into higher education is directly correlated to a competent future for the state,” said Dr. Allen-McMillan, Acting Education Commissioner. “This bill ensures the transparency of performance quality standards for career-oriented study programs offered by higher education institutions, proprietary degree-granting institutions and private vocational schools so that students stay informed when making important decisions to benefit their future career path. .”

Given the difficulties graduates will face in repaying their student loans if their tuition rate is not commensurate with the salary they are likely to receive after graduation, the law will establish standards based on the expense ratio tuition of the program relative to typical earnings of the specific and identifiable occupation for which the program is designed to prepare students. OSHE and DOL will apply these performance quality standards, as applicable, to any career-focused post-secondary education or training program at an accredited or state-approved institution.

The standards will apply to career-focused credit and non-credit programs at all post-secondary institutions, including public two- and four-year colleges, private independent not-for-profit institutions and proprietary institutions.

The bill’s main sponsors are Senators Joseph Cryan and Sandra Cunningham, along with Assemblywomen Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano and Britnee N. Timberlake.

“The cost of a college degree and vocational schools is a significant expense meant to be an investment in their future career opportunities,” said Senator Cryan. “But these costs can burden them with debt that can be disproportionate to their potential income. They deserve to know what they are paying for and what they can afford.

“Too many students are already struggling to pay off their student debt and it’s hampering their financial security for much of their adult life,” said MP Jasey. “Institutions must consider the cost of a program against 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 study programs from overcharging students for programs and incurring debts for which they will not earn sufficient salaries to repay.

“We commend Governor Murphy, the sponsors of the bill, and our state legislators for their commitment to addressing the root cause of the student debt crisis that has plagued New Jerseyans with nearly $50 billion. dollars of 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 that these programs are of good quality and priced according to the potential earnings of their graduates.

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