Proposed NJ law tells colleges to be clear with their mandatory fees
Tuition costs can be a tough enough financial mountain to climb, but New Jersey lawmakers say colleges and universities go too far when they tack on fees with no real explanation behind them.
A proposed law moving through the state Legislature would force higher education institutions to come clean — both on their books and to students — about these extra charges.
"The challenge is when you're applying for financial aid, many times you're looking at just the tuition, room and board, and the fees are not included," Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden, told New Jersey 101.5. "It's not fair not to have all the information spelled out in advance, prior to making a decision and prior to arriving."
Lampitt's legislation, advanced by an Assembly committee earlier this month, tasks schools with better describing a fee's purpose and use, documenting each fee separately in its budget and making fees clear to prospective students via financial aid "shopping sheets."
"Basically it provides the full extent of all the potential fees and costs associated with attending a university," Lampitt said.
The legislation, dating back to 2016, was derived from an audit that year of mandatory student fees at a few New Jersey colleges and universities. Fees accounted for about a third of what students paid for their education.
Pam Hersh, director of communications and public affairs for the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, said the Association does not oppose the bill, adding "our schools have always been transparent about what it costs" and they're "always eager to keep their schools affordable."
Hersh said the shopping-sheet portion of the bill allows New Jersey institutions to use the federal model rather than establish a separate version.