The Student Government Association’s College Advocates Supporting Higher Education (CA$H) Committee raises awareness about higher education issues that directly impact us all, especially those that effect our tuition. Every other week, we will discuss a different issue facing higher education.
The College Affordability Study Commission was established by law in February 2015 to examine effective strategies to make higher education in New Jersey more affordable. The Commission is composed of 12 appointed members, including President Peter Mercer from Ramapo College. On Sept. 27, the Commission released their final report on their recommendations for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto regarding the reduction of the cost of higher education in our state.
In today’s job market it has become crucial to earn a college degree in order to be successful; however, the cost of higher education continues to increase. Tuition costs at New Jersey public four year-colleges and universities are the fourth-highest in the nation. Inflation has created an increase in the cost of affording a college education but the state has been investing less money into higher education. This has raised the portion of debt on students to an average of $26,700 per person for about 43 million people. To combat this high amount of debt, the College Affordability Study Commission proposes several recommendations to help decrease the burden of an investment in higher education.
One of the major recommendations is to ensure that students are informed of the costs of higher education while they are still in high school. These students will be provided with information regarding financial literacy and college funding so that they are able to make informed choices when choosing colleges and financial aid packages. The Commission also recommends engaging parents through events such as assemblies, back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences.
Additionally, the Commission recommends using guidance counselors to aid students in their choice of the right college or university. Proposed professional development opportunities would increase guidance counselors’ knowledge of the college selection and financial planning process. Advanced awareness of the costs of higher education and how to finance this cost enables students to reduce student debt and have an easier time affording the cost of a higher education.
What can students do to help ensure that these recommendations are approved by the state legislation? You can contact your political representative and let them know your concerns. Also make sure that you are registered to vote and that you vote in the upcoming election on Nov. 8th. The local and state elections are being held in addition to the presidential election, so choose wisely for all of them. The CA$H Committee meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the SGA Office (SC-225). Feel free to stop by and share your opinion on this and any other higher education issue!