TRENTON – Legislation that would require educational brochures on college loan repayment schedules to be created and distributed to high school students was approved 78-0 Thursday by the Assembly.
“Many college-bound students and their families fail to realize how burdensome student loan debt can truly be until they receive their first repayment book after graduation, which often has monthly payments in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union). “Providing critical education before they sign loan documents can help students graduate without being mired in debt.”
The measure (A-1083) would direct the state Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to create a document that will serve to educate high school students about college loan repayment schedules. The HESAA would be required to post the document on its website and distribute it annually to public and nonpublic high schools. School districts and nonpublic high schools would be required to disseminate the document to high school juniors and seniors annually.
The sponsors said their legislation was especially necessary and timely after an annual report issued in June 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education listed several New Jersey public colleges as among the most expensive in the nation. The New Jersey Institute of Technology and The College of New Jersey ranked fifth and eleventh most expensive public colleges in the nation, respectively, in terms of tuition and fees. Rowan University ranked fourth most expensive in terms of net price – a calculation that factors in the cost of room, board, books and how many students get scholarships, grants and financial aid.
The document would include examples of monthly and annual loan payments required for various types of student loans, based on differing principal loan amounts and current interest rates, the time period it would take to fully repay those loans based on various monthly or annual payment installments, definitions of fixed rate loans, variable rate loans, and consolidation loans, and the consequences of defaulting on a student loan.
The bill now awaits further consideration by the Senate.