Higher education committee clears Munoz bill allowing students to use state financial aid for summer courses

Higher education committee clears Munoz bill allowing students to use state financial aid for summer courses

Nancy F. Munoz

TRENTON, N.J. –The Assembly Higher Education Committee cleared a bill (A5335), sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, that will allow students to use their Tuition Assistance Grant and Educational Opportunity Fund awards during summer sessions to fulfill graduation requirements.

“Motivated students want to graduate sooner and often do that by taking summer courses to get ahead. We should be supporting their goals by letting them apply their financial aid to their summer courses, not just the fall and spring semesters,” said Munoz (R-Union).

One-third of all full-time undergraduates attending school in New Jersey receive support through TAG, According to the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. More than 13,000 students receive assistance through opportunity grants each year, which cover college costs such as books, fees, and room and board that are not covered by TAG or the federal Pell grant programs.

Under the bill, TAG and opportunity grants dispersed during the academic year would be reduced depending on how much they used during the summer.

“College affordability is a huge issue. When students complete their degrees early, they save money and can start their careers sooner,” said Munoz.

New Jersey has the fourth-most-expensive in-state college tuition, and student debt more than doubled in the past decade – now standing at more than $43 billion.

The bill implements a recommendation of a state commission study on college affordability that released its final report in September 2016. It passed the Senate unanimously in February 2018.