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Zwicker Legislation Requiring Expanded Reporting on the NJCLASS Program by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority Advances

TRENTON – The Senate Higher Education Committee advanced legislation today sponsored by committee Vice-Chair Senator Andrew Zwicker that would require the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to provide information on borrower delinquency and administrative wage garnishments in its report on the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) program.

“Loans provided for higher education by the State should never place undue burden onto borrowers,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “By expanding the scope of HESAA’s report on the NJCLASS program, we can continually monitor that borrowers, and their families, are not being pushed into financial ruin by aggressive lending practices.”

NJCLASS loans are student loans provided by the State through HESAA that help meet the needs of borrowers after all other available aid forms are exhausted. The bill, S-1625, aims to create more transparency in the collection practices for the NJCLASS program. Specifically, it would require reporting on the total number of NJCLASS loans that are delinquent for more than 90 days and the number of administrative wage garnishment orders.

In 2016, an investigation by the New York Times and ProPublica uncovered an array of aggressive tactics used by HESAA, including stringent loan terms and higher-than-average interest rates for a State-run program. In response, the State previously enacted statutes that added protections for NJCLASS borrowers, including forgiving student loans in the event of a borrower’s death or total and permanent disability.

S-1625 is intended to provide additional clarity on HESAA’s practices and compliance to policy.

The bill advanced out of committee in a 5-0 vote.

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