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NJ students rally to hold the line on college costs [AUDIO]

About three dozen students rallied outside the Statehouse on Monday, calling on lawmakers to pass the New Jersey Education Legislative Package.

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NJ HELP would cap tuition rates according to the rate of inflation, expand funding for the Educational Opportunity Fund, help some students more easily access financial aid programs and give students more information about college costs.

New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-Teaneck) who is one of the NJ HELP sponsors, told the crowd that expanding options for higher education is vitally important, “so that you can become the job creators that everybody is talking about in the future.”

She also lamented that the state has cut higher education assistance while giving away billions of dollars in subsidies to corporations.

Student organizer Jalina Wayser, who attends Rowan University, said NJ HELP is needed because a lot of students are being shut out of higher education.

(Kena Betancur, Getty Images News)

“College is no longer about expanding yourself or learning anything about yourself or the world around you and wanting to make real changes,” she said. “It’s all about getting in and out and getting a job.”

Wayser said many students are working two and three jobs while attending college, but they’re still forced to take on enormous student loans.

“We know that this is just a just a gaping wound in New Jersey, and this is just a start to the conversation of making sure that higher education is invested in by the state,” she said.

Wayser stressed NJ HELP will not waste money.

“If we have a more educated workforce we have more educated people,” she said, “it’s statistically shown that we’re making more revenue, so it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do as well.”

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