NJ.COM: Bill would eliminate grants for students to attend for-profits

Career College Central Summary:

  • During her first two years at Berkeley College, Nicole Vargas had to pay for school without any help from her parents, she said.
  • So Vargas, the first in her family to attend college, said she worked two jobs and commuted more than an hour between her home in Frenchtown and full-time classes in Woodland Park.
  • That was before Vargas received a state Tuition Aid Grant for low income students, which allowed her to quit one job and focus on maintaining her 3.7 GPA and chasing her dream of becoming an Environmental Protection Agency officer, she said.
  • "When I got the letter for the TAG grant, I think I may have shed a tear or two," Vargas told the state Senate Higher Education Committee on Thursday.
  • Vargas and other students appeared before state lawmakers this week to oppose a bill that would phase out TAG grants at for-profits initiations such as Berkeley. Three other proprietary schools, DeVry University and Eastwick and Eastern International colleges, are also part of the popular state aid program, legislators said.
  • TAG, offered to New Jersey residents attending in-state schools, is considered one of the most generous state tuition aid programs in the country. The taxpayer-funded grants to tens of thousands of low-income students can be used at public or private colleges and do not have to be paid back.
  • "If I didn't receive the TAG it would definitely be a lot harder for me to complete my degree and meet my career goals as a minority woman, a first generation college student," said Kendeil Dorvilier, another Berkeley student.
  • The bill (S2126), comes as for-profit institutions across the country are facing increased scrutiny of their costs and often low graduation and job placement rates. It would not take money away from students currently enrolled at for-profit schools but would prevent any future grants from being awarded to those schools' students.
  • The phase out is needed to protect New Jersey students from being led down "the primrose path," said Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer), who introduced the proposed legislation.
  • Turner said she has heard from too many students who used TAG and a combination of student loans to attend for-profit schools.

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