College Economics 101: Better Information = Better Decisions

( – promoted by Jersey Jazzman)

A note: The Staff Writers at Blue Jersey – listed to the right – are also the de facto editorial board for the site. We’ve decided that declared Democratic gubernatorial candidates should have the opportunity to express their views here: a free forum that does not impose the restrictions often required from newspapers and other media outlets. In other words: we are the place where NJ Democrats can hear from the candidates in their own words.

So, starting today, any declared candidate for governor will immediately have his or her posts moved to the front page. This is not an endorsement of any particular candidate; it’s a service for NJ Democrats.

So far, Senator Barbara Buono is the only declared candidate in this race; therefore, her posts will automatically move to the front page. We’ll grant this privilege to any other declared candidate from now until the primary election.

We’ll spell this out further in a post this week. Until then, here’s Senator Buono.

Cross posted at

Today, the Senate Higher Education Committee passed a bill I authored, S-2187. It, quite simply, has a single purpose – empowering New Jersey’s students. It provides prospective students and their families with an easy-to-understand fact sheet about the cost of attendance.

We live in an Information Age.  It is an age in which knowledge is power.  Because of what we know today, we have the ability to live better lives.  With what we know, we can make better decisions – whether big or small – each and every day.

Just the other day, I did some grocery shopping for my family.  Before I went to the store, I checked a few different circulars to find out what was on sale.  When I went out to buy the groceries, labels on the shelves made the lowest prices clear. And later that day when I got started on dinner, nutritional labels told me all about the vitamins and nutrients my family would consume by eating that food.

I made good choices, because I had access to the right information – information that exists because of the fundamental idea that people ought to have a right to make an informed decision about what is best for them and for their families.

Now does it make any sense – is it truly reasonable that in making a simple trip to do my food shopping – that I had more information readily available to me than my children did when it came to one of the biggest life decisions they would ever make?

Choosing a college – both for parents and students – is one of the most important choices one can make.  It is an investment in a better future.  A college education is the first step on the path to success.

And that’s the advice students get, isn’t it? “Go to school.  Get an education.  Make something of yourself.”

But written in the finest of print is the reality that is decades of debt.  It is a reality with which far too many of us – whether it is through debt of our own or that of our children – are familiar.

For many young people, college is about more than what happens in the classroom.  For many students, this is the beginning of adulthood.  It is the start of an independent life.

If our intention is to give our students the skills they need to be responsible adults, in an age of information, the very least we can do is pass this bill and give them the facts. They’ll be able to make the right decisions.

But as it is today, recent graduates across the nation – many of them young people just barely out of their teenage years – have on average more than $20,000 worth of debt.

Today, the sum of student loan debt surpasses that of credit card debt, auto loan debt, and it threatens our country’s economic stability. For too many college graduates, loan payments far exceed incomes.  For them, the thought of getting married or starting a family or even moving out of their parents’ basements seems out of reach.

For too many college graduates, unpaid student loans today can mean not just a delay in adulthood but garnished wages or Social Security tomorrow.  And this isn’t just something that affects the students themselves; more and more retirees – believing that they could begin the next chapter of life with the kids out of the house and their days at the office behind them – are joining the ranks of the millions of student loan debtors over the age of 60.

These were students just looking for a shot at good jobs that pay a livable wage.  They were students just looking to achieve what their parents may not have, to fulfill their dreams, to move forward with their lives.

But just months after graduation, they realize that something keeps holding them back.  And it will for the next 10 or 20 years, sometimes more.  In short, they started classes with high hopes, and they left with debt that was even higher.

All because they made what seemed like a smart decision.

I urge my colleagues to pass this bill, and stand up for the generation of young people who will build our future.

Comments (2)

  1. Nick Lento

    ….sonds like a first baby step, but a good one.

    What’s really needed are ways to eliminate the need for students puting themselves into horrendous debt in the first place.

    What the status quo amounts to is a virtual lifetime of indentured servitude for the poorest kids and the kids of the middle class who rely heavily on borrowed money to get an education.

    No one wold dream of charging students to be able to attend high school.   At this point in our economic and cultural history higher education for ALL must become a universal right…not a privilege reserved for those who can raise the cash or who happen to be born to a wealthy family.

    It’s NOT a matter of do we have the money, not really….it’s a matter of can we afford NOT to provide a full education for ALL of our people?

    Entrance into the best programs should be based on merit, not on who can outbid the most qualified.

    The current system simply reinforces a plutocratic oligarchy in which the children of the rich and privileged get an unfair leg up which simply makes for a more unjust and, ultimately, inefficient unproductive unsustainable economy and culture.

    So, yes, this bill is a good scratch on the surface of what needs doing…..but that’s all it is.

  2. Jersey Jazzman

    When the feds required credit card companies to put their terms in simple-to-understand language.

    Seems like a no-brainer. But only the first step.


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