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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association supports legislation approved by a Senate committee on Monday that would strengthen the state’s workforce pipeline by requiring that students be counseled about dual enrollment opportunities allowing them to earn college credits while still in high school, thereby reducing the time and cost of obtaining a college degree.

“Creating more affordable pathways for New Jersey students to earn a college degree is important for students and essential to the state’s long-term economic growth,” said Andrew Musick, NJBIA’s Vice President for Taxation & Economic Development.

“Dual enrollment agreements between New Jersey high schools and our state’s colleges could also help curb the outmigration of our students to out-of-state colleges and universities,” Musick said. “In order to deliver the highly skilled workforce that is critical to the economy of the future, we need to keep more of our brightest students here in New Jersey.”

Musick noted approximately 60 percent of New Jersey’s high school seniors leave the state to earn their college degree, for a net loss of 29,000 students annually. This trend does not bode well for our future workforce.

The bill, S-990, which is before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee this afternoon, requires guidance counselors to meet with students by their second or third year of high school to discuss dual enrollment options, which could reduce the cost and the length of time it takes to earn a college degree. It also requires high school counselors to discuss state and federal tuition assistance programs that may be available.

Under the legislation, the financial literacy component of the high school graduation requirement would require that students receive instruction on state and federal tuition assistance programs, including grants, scholarships and student loans. Issues surrounding student loan debt and loan repayments are to be included as well.

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