As more and more New Jersey colleges and universities announce plans to offer classes online for the upcoming semester because of the pandemic, one lawmaker is pushing a plan to incentivize lowering costs for students.

Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Monmouth, is sponsoring a bill (A4499) that would give institutions of higher learning that receive state aid an ultimatum.

“Save the students money on their tuition instead of losing state aid,” he said, “We can’t continue business as usual.”

The measure specifies that any New Jersey public research university, state college or university, county college or independent institution of higher education will have state aid reduced for the 2020-2021 academic year if the institution provides the majority of its classes virtually but does not decrease tuition and fees for students in a reasonable manner.

He said under the bill, “the state secretary of Higher Education will determine the methodology of how to reasonably and fairly reduce state aid if the colleges are not reducing tuition and fees.”

Dancer explained many universities such as Rutgers make students pay all sorts of fees for things they are not using now.

“They charge a computer fee, believe it or not. The students, in addition to their tuition, are paying $171 for the privilege of having a computer,” he said.

He explained there are also campus fees for the student center and other services.

“If you want to use the law library, for example, that law student at Rutgers is going to pay $140 every semester," Dance said. "I can’t make this stuff up.”

Dancer said if students aren’t using college services and facilities on campus because most of their classes are being offered remotely, it’s not fair to charge them for these services and facilities because many students work part time and are struggling.

“Not only with the student loan debt, but the fact that in order to repay student loan debt in today’s world, those jobs may not even be there, the income may not be there," he said.

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