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Senator Tom Kean, Jr.

Senator Tom Kean

Kean Bills Addressing College Affordability Approved by Senate

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Part of Package of Bills to Help Students Graduate on Time, With Less Debt

The New Jersey Senate has approved a pair of bills sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to help college students in New Jersey graduate on time and with less debt.

A pair of bills sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean to help college students graduate on time and with less debt has been approved by the New Jersey Senate. (HESAA)

The bills are part of a legislative package advanced by the Senate today addressing the problem of college affordability.

“We have too many college students graduating with six-figures of debt, wondering how they’ll ever pay it off,” said Kean. “If they had gotten good advice up front on the importance of taking enough credits to graduate quickly, they could have planned better and avoided unnecessary debt. We need to do a better job of getting that message out.”

According to a study from Columbia University, college students who enroll in 15 credits in their first semester are more likely to graduate, and graduate on time, than students who only take the minimum of 12 credits that’s necessary to be considered a full-time student for federal financial aid.

Kean’s legislation, S-767, directs the Secretary of Higher Education to establish a communications campaign, including billboards, brochures, and electronic resources, to encourage students to enroll in 30 credits per years.

The bill directs that those communications must reach students directly during course registration for the academic semester, and requires institutions of higher education to report to the secretary on strategies and incentives to accomplish this goal.

The second bill, S-770, allows students to use tuition aid grants (TAG) and educational opportunity grant awards during summer sessions, and ensures that the use of an award during a summer session does not count towards the number of years for which a student may be eligible to receive a grant.

Currently, Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) regulations restrict the number of semesters for which a student may receive a TAG payment, and precludes students from using a TAG award during a summer session.

“We need to do everything we can to help students to graduate from college quickly, which is a primary strategy to increase college affordability,” added Kean. “In many instances, summer credits are less expensive than those for the same class during the regular academic year. This bill is one easy way we can help motivated students to graduate faster and with less debt.”

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