The New Jersey Business & Industry Association supports three bills before the Assembly today that are designed to better prepare students for college and increase transparency in the student loan process so that families better understand repayment obligations and the total amount of debt they are taking on.

The first bill, A-2873, (Jones, D-5/Mosquera, D-4), would require the State Board of Education to make the completion of a high school computer science course a graduation requirement, beginning with the Grade 9 class in the 2022-2023 school year. The course must cover computational programming, the development of web pages, data security and other topics.

“Successful completion of a high school computer science course will provide students with skills that are important for 21st century careers,” said Andrew Musick, NJBIA’s vice president of Taxation & Economic Development.  “A highly skilled workforce needs a strong computer science foundation, especially in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.”

The second bill, A-4088, (Schaer, D-36/Jasey, D-27) establishes a “High School College Readiness Commission” to develop recommendations on how to better prepare students for college, including raising awareness among students and parents of admission requirements and issues associated with attending college. The commission’s report must be presented to the Governor and Legislature within one year of its organization meeting.

The third bill, A-4238, (Sumter, D-35/Jasey, D-27) requires the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to provide a comprehensive annual report by Aug. 1 each year on the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) Loan Program. The legislation also directs HESAA to develop a student loan comparison document that allows potential borrowers to compare NJCLASS loans with loans that are available under federal student loan programs.

The purpose of this bill is to increase transparency under the NJCLASS Loan Program and public knowledge and awareness of the stringent loan repayment requirements under the program as compared to federal student loan programs. “Increasing student loan debt is a problem in New Jersey and the state needs to make sure students and their families are better informed about the financial options and obligations associated with attending college,” Musick said.