The New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development will now be required to establish performance quality standards for post-secondary career-oriented programs under a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy July 29.
The measure aims to protect students from unreasonably high tuition rates that would be difficult to repay based on the wages they are likely to earn after completing a career-oriented educational or training program.
“Higher education programs that are designed to prepare students for a specific occupation should offer both high-quality training and affordable costs based on the wages that program graduates are likely to earn,” said Murphy.
“By establishing performance quality standards for career-oriented education and training programs, we will guard students against unreasonable student loan debt that they simply cannot repay with the typical wages in the career for which they studied,” he said. “This is an important step I am proud to take as my Administration continues our work of making higher education more affordable for everyone in our state.”
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said the law allows the state to “protect the thousands of people seeking training to advance their careers and, at the same time, the hundreds of training providers that play by the rules and prepare their students for work without taking advantage of them. No one should have to borrow so much for career training that they can’t afford to pay it back once they are working at the job they prepared for.”
The law will set standards based on the ratio of a program’s tuition compared to the typical earnings of the occupation it is preparing students for. NJOSHE and NJDOL will enforce these performance quality standards as appropriate for any career-oriented post-secondary education or training program at an institution licensed or approved by the state.
Standards will apply to both credit and non-credit based training programs at all post-secondary institutions, including two- and four-year public colleges, private nonprofit independent institutions and proprietary institutions.
Primary sponsors of Assembly Bill 1695 and Senate Bill 495 include Sens. Joseph Cryan, D-20th District, and Sandra Cunningham, D-31st District, as well as Assemblywomen Mila Jasey, D-27th District; Annette Quijano, D-20th District; and Britnee Timberlake, D-34th District.
“Too many students already struggle to pay off their student loan debt and that stands in the way of their financial security well into their adult lives,” said Jasey. “Institutions must take into consideration the cost of a program as compared with a student’s anticipated earnings in their chosen career or profession. Through the new law, reasonable performance quality standards will be set, preventing career-oriented courses of study from overcharging students for programs and incurring debt for which they will not earn sufficient salaries to repay.”