TRENTON – A bill designed to encourage graduates of N.J. colleges and universities to remain in the state, and to encourage residents attending out-of-state institutions to return here post-graduation, has been introduced.
A4095, sponsored by Assembly Democrats Connie Wagner, Peter J. Barnes and Pamela Lampitt, would create a “Retaining Our Best and Brightest Loan Redemption Program” to provide incentives to such academically successful graduates.
The purpose would be to stem the so-called “brain drain’’ of losing N.J. students to other states because of the high cost of attending school and living in New Jersey.
“New Jersey is only as strong as the people who keep its engine running,” said Wagner, (D-38), Bergen. “These students have excelled at school, and through this program, would be incentivized to do the same as employees for the many businesses operating in the state.”
Barnes, (D-18), Edison, said, “In an increasingly competitive market, companies are looking to bring on board the best candidates for the job. his program works to keep a viable talent pool here in New Jersey that will help these businesses, and in turn the state’s economy, thrive.”
Lampitt, (D-6), Voorhees, said, Today, college students are graduating with increasing and alarming amounts of student loan debt, at a time when tuition rates soar and the Governor has slashed tuition aid to students. This program will help ease those loan burdens, encouraging our best and brightest graduates to start their careers and their families in New Jersey.”
Under the program, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) will redeem up to 20 percent of the required minimum monthly payment on a graduate’s eligible NJCLASS loan, provided that the participant remains compliant with the program’s eligibility criteria for the duration of the previous month.
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.
Some of the criteria include being a state resident, working full time, having graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or its equivalent, and having an annual income of no more than $75,000.
The cost of providing this program to NJCLASS borrowers will be built into the interest rate charged to all NJCLASS borrowers, according to the bill sponsors.