College Assistance Plan Would Defer Tuition

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. August 19, 2013

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Emily Kerr
Maple Shade resident Emily Kerr urges lawmakers to approve the plan (photo by Phil Gregory)

The New Jersey legislature is considering legislation that would set up a special commission focused on helping students afford college.

Based on a system in Oregon, the ‘Pay Forward Pay Back’ plan would allow students to attend college without paying tuition.  They’d pay back a percentage of their salaries from the jobs they’d get after graduation.

20-year-old Emily Kerr lives in Maple Shade. She was a history major at Burlington County College, but dropped out of school because of high costs and the debt she already had.

 “One of the most important things a young person can have nowadays is a college education. Without it you will not be able to flourish in a successful career. Unfortunately the cost of tuition has risen to heights where we middle class students can not reach.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney says the pay back proposal he’s sponsoring might not be the perfect plan, but it’s an opportunity to start the discussion.

“We can’t not talk about this now. It’s getting to a point where a higher education is so unaffordable and there’s so much debt burden on a young person they really don’t get a chance to live the American dream when they get out of school.”

Assembly Higher Education Committee chair Celeste Riley is another sponsor of the legislation. She says bonding could be used to offset the loss of tuition income for colleges until students pay the money back.

Sweeney wants lawmakers to act on the measure before the end of the current legislative session.


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