Aid for School Districts and Higher Education
- Senator Sweeney is pledged towards making higher learning more accessible for all New Jersey students. Through his sponsorship along with Senator Cunningham, the “College Affordability Study Commission” was signed into law making the pursuit of a college degree not just an abstract dream, but a reality for all New Jersey The ten-person commission encompasses college presidents and faculty throughout New Jersey laden with examining any and all ideas for making college more affordable. Commission members are studying new ways to make the NJBEST 529 College Savings Program and the NJCLASS Loan Program more effective by incentivizing investors to make the terms more attractive for qualifying students. Several pilot programs are also being considered for students who attend community colleges transferring into four-year public universities, as well as more fluid student loan repayment options for all students.
- Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Burzichelli sponsored a law that provides supplemental aid to school districts that have experienced significant enrollment growth over the past three years. School districts in the Third Legislative District that were impacted include East Greenwich Township, Kingsway Regional, South Harrison Township, Swedesboro-Woolwich, and Elmer.
- Senator Sweeney sponsored the “Building Our Future Bond Act,” which authorized $750 million in voter-approved bonds to finance higher education capital projects that will increase the academic competiveness of New Jersey’s public and private colleges and universities. Grants that were approved for South Jersey include $357 million for Rutgers University, $117 million for Rowan University, $19 million for Gloucester County College, $3 million for Salem Community College and $2.5 million for Cumberland County College.
Student Protections and Expanding Educational Opportunity
- Senator Sweeney has been integral in improving the quality of higher education in New Jersey, particularly with leading the efforts to expand Rowan University’s statewide and national appeal. Through partnerships with county colleges, to allow students to smoothly transition to four-year programs, and with existing medical facilities, to strengthen its standing as a research university, Rowan University has become a world-class university that is able to cater to students at all post-secondary levels in a wide variety of academic fields.
- Assemblyman Taliaferro is sponsoring a legislative effort to increase the affordability and attractiveness of New Jersey’s county colleges. This bill encourages greater opportunities for attendance at county colleges by establishing a $750 gross income tax credit and a $375 credit for part-time attendance. These tax credits provide a savings that can be used to finance a significant portion of a county college student’s tuition.
- In an effort to strengthen New Jersey’s support network for student athletes who sustain athletic injury, Assemblyman Taliaferro introduced legislation which would require public institutions of higher education to provide an equivalent scholarship to student-athletes sustaining injury in an athletic program. Currently a public college or university can choose not to renew a student’s athletic scholarship if they are unable to compete due to injury sustained while participating in a sport.
- Assemblyman Taliaferro is sponsoring legislation which would expand educational opportunities for New Jersey’s home-schooled students. The legislation would require school districts to allow home-schooled students to participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities in the student’s resident district.