A bill encouraging New Jersey’s colleges and universities to offer baccalaureate degree programs that cost no more than $10,000 in tuition and fees was approved Monday by the Higher Education Committee.
The measure, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, comes after a number of institutions of higher education in other states, including Texas and Florida, have developed degree programs at that price point.
“The cost of attending an institution of higher education continues to increase, and many New Jersey students and their families find it difficult to afford the tuition and fees required for enrollment,” Singleton noted.
The average annual cost in tuition and fees for a four-year public college in New Jersey is $13,002, behind only New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania, based on figures compiled by the College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing.”
“It’s been historically high for many years,” said Michael Klein, CEO of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities. “It’s a function not just of the high cost of operations but also of appropriations from the state, which has cut operating aid 25 percent over 10 years. That has a direct impact on tuition.”
Singleton, a Rowan University alum, would like to see this idea take root all over the state.
In its ninth annual report on student loan debt issued in Nov. 2014, the Institute for College Access and Success found that nearly seven in 10 college seniors who graduated in 2013 left school with an average of $28,400 in student loan debt, an increase of 2 percent over 2012.
Southern New Hampshire University now offers $10,000 degrees by having students’ progress through the curriculum at their own pace based on mastery of competencies, not accumulation of credits.
“Competency-based degrees provide quality education, not just in a classroom,” Singleton said. “Part of such a program would be expanding online study.”
While ranking fourth in annual costs, New Jersey has the fifth lowest percentage increase in the past five years at 5.57 percent, Klein said.
“The sticker price for full-time attendance appears daunting, but New Jersey provides generous state-based financial aid that keeps the costs down for many students. New Jersey is what is known as a ‘high tuition-high aid’ state,” Klein said.
In 2012-13, the state provided the fifth-highest grant aid per full-time student at $1,300.
Still, the $10,000 figure is somewhat misleading, Klein added. It doesn’t include room and board, for example. And it’s often necessary to bring advanced placement credits to the table, thus requiring students to take certain courses in high school.
“You hit the ground running with credits under your belt,” Klein explained.
Placement tests add to that advanced credit system.
Legislation that permits individuals who have received adequate training to carry and administer life-saving epinephrine auto-injectors to thwart severe allergic reactions cleared the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Monday.
The bill is sponsored by Singleton and Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr., D-Burlington.
This authorization would not apply to health care professionals and emergency medical technicians who are otherwise authorized to administer the devices.
“Serious allergic reactions can be life-threatening without prompt treatment,” Conaway noted.
“An EpiPen can relieve symptoms and buy time until help arrives. Allowing properly trained individuals to carry and administer epinephrine can make the difference between life and death.”
The educational program referenced in the bill would have to include training in the administration of epinephrine auto-injector devices, recognition of the symptoms of anaphylaxis, safe maintenance and storage of the devices, and any other information deemed necessary by the commissioner.
The bill would provide that health care professionals be immune from civil and professional liability for prescribing or dispensing an epinephrine auto-injector device. So would a person authorized to administer the injection in good faith and without fee to a person who appears to be suffering from anaphylaxis or any other serious condition treatable with epinephrine.
The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee Monday approved legislation co-sponsored by Singleton to encourage wind energy projects in New Jersey.
One of the measures urges the Board of Public Utilities to adopt regulations needed to enhance the construction of offshore wind energy projects.
“Other states are already enjoying the benefits of wind power energy,” Singleton said. “These projects are critically important to New Jersey’s environmental health and economic growth over the next few years.”