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(Trenton) - The Assembly Higher Education Committee recently advanced legislation to better inform prospective students about college financing by providing interested students with a financial "shopping sheet."
The sponsors, Assembly Democrats Joseph Cryan, Annette Quijano and Ruben J. Ramos, Jr., stated that the intent of the legislation is to provide students and their families' clear information on the costs, loan options, and estimated debt that will allow them to easily compare financial aid packages from different schools.
"Let's think of it as a "truth in lending" disclosure for college financing," said Cryan (D-Union). "The 'shopping sheet' would provide information that will help students shop for the opportunity that works for their education needs and budget. New Jersey families considering colleges deserve to know how much and how long they will be paying for college."
The bill (A-3216) would require four-year public and independent institutions of higher education to provide a financial aid "shopping sheet" to each prospective student as part of the school's financial aid offer. Under the bill's provisions, the Secretary of Higher Education would provide a model format for the shopping sheet to be used by the institutions.
"Higher education is the first of a few major financial decisions a person will have to make in their lifetimes," said Quijano (D-Union). "Families should have at their fingertips the information they need to make the right decision for them. Hopefully, it will help prevent so many graduates from carrying the heavy burden of unpaid college debt."
"Honest details on loans, repayment schedules and other financing options will give the student an idea of potential debt and help to avoid future debt pitfalls," said Ramos (D-Hudson). "This legislation would provide families and students the information required to make the best decision for their future."
The "shopping sheet," as directed by the bill would include certain information concerning costs and expected debt that the particular can expect to incur in attending that school, such as the total cost of attendance, the amount of scholarship and grant money awarded to the student, the loan options available to the student and the estimated amount of the student's debt and monthly loan payments after graduation. In addition, the sheet must include information on the school's graduation rate, student retention, rate and student loan default rate.
A similar proposal has been made on the federal level. The United States Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are currently working to develop a model format for post secondary school to use in conveying this information to prospective students.
The measure now goes to the Assembly Speaker to be considered for a floor vote.
To read more, please visit the New Jersey General Assembly Democratic Office Web site.
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