New Jersey's 12th Legislative District

Senator Samuel Thompson

Senator Sam Thompson

Thompson Says Murphy’s STEM Loan Forgiveness Program Unlikely to Help NJ Economy Despite Cost to Taxpayers

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New Proposal Comes as Governor Fails to Implement Already Funded Law Creating STEM Fellowship Program

Senator Sam Thompson said a student loan forgiveness program recently announced by Governor Phil Murphy is unlikely to boost New Jersey’s innovation economy despite the cost to taxpayers.

Sen. Sam Thompson said a student loan forgiveness program recently announced by Gov. Phil Murphy is unlikely to boost New Jersey’s innovation economy despite the cost to taxpayers. (Pixabay)

“There are major problems with Governor Murphy’s loan forgiveness plan that ensure it will fail to meet expectations despite significant cost,” said Thompson (R-12). “It’s structured in a way that provides little incentive for recent STEM field graduates who are in high demand nationwide to stay in New Jersey.”

Under the announced requirements of the Governor’s STEM Loan Forgiveness Program, residents would have to work for four years in an approved STEM job in New Jersey before being eligible to apply for the loan forgiveness program.

After applying for the program, approved applicants would be eligible to earn $2,000 per year for up to four years of additional work to defray student loan expenses if they remain employed in an approved STEM occupation at a New Jersey employer.

“People won’t even be eligible to apply for the student loan forgiveness program until they’ve already worked full-time in New Jersey for four years, and then they’ll have to work at least another year to get the first $2,000,” said Thompson. “That won’t help us to retain recent college graduates with degrees in STEM fields who often command six-figure salaries from the start.”

The senator said the promise of $2,000 in benefits after years of work will likely be claimed by those who had no plans of leaving New Jersey.

“It’s hard to imagine that the promise of $2,000 in student loan forgiveness five years from now would prevent someone with a STEM degree from taking a highly paid job on Wall Street today, or convince a computer science graduate to turn down a $100,000 job offer with Google or Facebook in California,” Thompson said. “Ultimately, Governor Murphy’s loan forgiveness plan will just be giving money away to people who are already settled into careers in New Jersey who aren’t leaving anyway.”

Thompson noted that Governor Murphy is ignoring a law that has already been enacted to support STEM jobs and New Jersey’s innovation economy. That effort, which passed the Legislature with unanimous bipartisan support, was championed by Bell Labs.

“A bill sponsored by Senator Kean to create a post-doctoral fellowship program in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to enhance STEM research and development opportunities in New Jersey was signed into law under Governor Christie,” Thompson added. “It’s inexplicable, however, that Governor Murphy is ignoring this existing law by refusing to implement the STEM fellowship program and is failing to utilize the approved funding as intended. Instead, the Governor wants to throw taxpayer money down a dark hole, which won’t cause a single STEM graduate to stay in New Jersey.”

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