Every year, students planning on entering college begin to explore ways to pay for their post-secondary education. A new law signed this week is aimed at helping New Jersey families learn more about those costs.
On Tuesday, Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver signed a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Brown, creating the Office of Student Loan Ombudsman. The office will help educate families about student loans and borrowing; advocate on behalf of student loan borrowers in resolving disputes; and protect borrowers from loan services producers who may be defrauding or misleading borrowers.
"Despite studies showing individuals with a college degree generally will have higher lifetime earnings than those who do not, the expenses of tuition, books, and housing and the prospect of taking on unbearable student loan debt is deterring many of our best and brightest students from going to college,” said Brown. “Today, we’ve made it a little easier for middle-class families to afford a college degree.”
Brown’s bill was among two signed by Oliver this week that will protect students and families who are borrowing money for higher education.
The other law was derived from a 2016 report issued by the Office of the State Comptroller and requires institutions of higher education to increase transparency on mandatory student fees with the creation of written policies about the fees, documentation of each individual fee’s justification, proper tracking of transactions related to the fees and inclusion of an explanation of each fee’s use in its description.
Oliver was joined by Higher Education Student Assistance Authority Executive Director David Socolow, Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride, and Deputy Secretary of Higher Education Diana Gonzalez to sign the laws.
“We have seen the negative impact that predatory lenders and misinformation can have on our students and these vital new consumer protection laws will help to protect and support them as they pursue post-secondary education,” said Oliver.