Just about all of NJ’s colleges have seen increases in tuition and fees over the last two years. Although I am ready to graduate this May, I have seen increases just about every year of my education. I’m grateful for an education, but college costs are continuing to get out of hand.
New Jersey understands that the cost of college is starting to turn people away from getting a higher education, while also crippling some bright students with massive amounts of debt. As reported by Patricia Alex on NorthJersey.com, “A package of bills that would dramatically change everything from how college students pay for their meals and textbooks to how quickly tuition could rise was introduced Thursday by Democratic lawmakers who want to force the state’s colleges to graduate more students and keep costs in check.” (Source: NorthJersey.com). Two of the biggest proposals, however, involve a tuition freeze and tax credit.
Some of the other bills involved would seek to address graduation rates, limit textbook costs, and even help High Schools prepare students for college more. In fact, Kelly Heyboer of The Star-Ledger, reports that five of the bills are designed to make sure college students can graduate within a four year span. Heyboer states that “they include legislation limiting the number of credits colleges can require for a degree and two bills that would make it easier for students to transfer credits between colleges (source: nj.com). Additionally, many of the bills are aiming, not cut tuition costs but rather to limit extra fees such as meal plans: the bills have “legislation that would ban colleges from requiring residential students to purchase meal plans..”
As a college student, I’m thankful that there are people looking to cut the costs of college but I’m also frustrated that we have come to this point. When I first entered college, I decided to go to a local community college instead of a four-year university; partly, this was due to the fact that I had the NJ Stars scholarship. Thought it pretty much paid for my tuition at the community college, the NJ Stars II program (for the STAR students who eventually transfer to a four year university) has not been as good as I had planned on. By the time I transfered (actually right before!) they slashed the scholarship program from $7,000 a year, based upon your GPA, to $2,500 a year (source: njspotlight.com). This was a big change to the program, and one many students weren’t expected.
NJ has had many issues, much like the rest of the country, regarding college costs. I have not, however, seen much progress to cut the bills–in fact, it appears that just the opposite is true. I’m hoping for the best when it comes to these recent proposals, but I’m also grounded in reality of what has happened previously.