N.J. lawmakers craft plans to help cut costs of college

Jeffrey Canas

Jeffrey Canas

Democrats in the New Jersey Senate are proposing an 11-bill plan to make college more affordable.

The measures include expanding scholarships for top students; making students and parents more aware of available financial aid; and supporting dual enrollment.

A higher education should not be a luxury for the wealthy, said Sen. Sandra Cunningham.

“We heard from young people who were in debt over their heads after going to college. A few of them were even contemplating committing suicide. We realize this is not something that we need to play with,” said Cunningham, D-Hudson. “This is something that we need real answers for.”

A key initiative would let students complete three years at a community college and one year at a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree, said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“It’s going to be under the guidance and under the structure of a four-year institution. So you’re talking about a $25,000 to $30,000 education for a four-year degree,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “A lot of schools that’s what it costs for one year.”

Sweeney, who said he expects the plan to meet some resistance, said some of the proposals will add to the state’s costs and he’ll work toward getting them funded.

“How many young Einsteins really, that’s what we’re talking about, have been passed over because they could not afford to reach the greatness that’s inside them?” he said.

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