TRENTON – Senate lawmakers released legislation that aims to give college students a good idea of the job opportunities in a given field of study following graduation.
The bill, S1271, would require public and private colleges to post employment data for its graduates. The information would be posted on the college’s website, and would give incoming and current students an idea of how their degree would fair following graduation, said the bill’s sponsor.
“Our students are graduating with this enormous debt at a time that they cannot find employment to pay off that debt,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Shirley Turner (D-15).
It would require colleges to essentially track post-graduate employment of students for one year after they graduate.
Turner argued that while some colleges already post the information as a sort of marketing tool, the legislation would require post-secondary education institutions in the state to be upfront with the information to benefit students.
“I think the institution owes it to those students,” she said.
Committee member Sen. Robert Singer (R-30) voiced some concern over the legislation during this morning’s committee meeting.
“Really, this is an unfunded mandate,” Singer said. “And secondly, tracking it is very, very difficult.”
He asked whether Turner would consider making the program optional.
Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), who voted in favor of releasing the bill, said he would support the legislation in committee, but expressed some reluctance to make it mandatory for colleges. He said he recognized there would be a cost involved in implementing the legislation, and suggested he may not support it later down the line.
Other Senate Higher Education lawmakers voted in favor of releasing the bill, but also echoed similar concerns mentioned by Singer and Sarlo.
The bill moved out of committee following a 3-0 vote with two abstentions.
Workforce shortage loans
The Senate Higher Education Committee also released S1229, which would establish the Workforce Shortage Loan Redemption Program.
The bill was released with little discussion.