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NJ panel studying college affordability gets some advice

 Steven Rose, the chairman of the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, makes his suggestions to the members of the College Affordability Study Commission at a Statehouse hearing.  (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Steven Rose, the chairman of the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, makes his suggestions to the members of the College Affordability Study Commission at a Statehouse hearing. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

A panel charged with reviewing ways to make a New Jersey college education more affordable got some advice from a group representing college presidents.

Passaic County Community College President Steven Rose, who chairs the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, told the College Affordability Study Commission it’s time for a review of the state’s high tuition-high aid policy.

“Our neediest students are well taken care of and they’re inoculated from the high tuition, but there is a huge group of students, and I would argue a growing group of students, that still cannot afford to go to college and are really being hurt by our high tuitions,” Rose said Wednesday during a Statehouse hearing.

Colleges need innovations to accelerate student progress, Rose said. And he recommends remedial education for freshmen be offered at low or no cost.

“If we can save time for a student to get through and get their degree, it’s going to save them money along the way,” he told the panel appointed by the Legislature. “It’s going to be more affordable. Maybe, if they’re taking loans, one or two less semesters that they don’t have to take a loan.”

Rose also said dual enrollment in college courses for high school students should be expanded.

“If these students can come out of high school with credits, make that senior year work count for something, and do this at low or no cost to the students, we will make a dramatic improvement in affordability of students who want to go that route.”

He also advised exploring alternatives to traditional textbooks.

“It could be a thousand dollars a semester for books on top of what else they have to pay,” he said. “And my bigger concern is so many students are skipping the books altogether, and that just doesn’t help anyone.”

Frederick Keating, the chairman of the College Affordability Study Commission, said three public hearings will he held beginning in September.

“We want to do one at a research university, one at a state college, and one at a community college to get the variety of the population, as well as the geography, involved,” he said. “I really hope that at least gets the student involvement. So we’re very much anxious to do that.”

Keating expects the commission will issue a report in September of 2016 year detailing its recommendations.

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