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NJ’s ‘brain drain’ worst in the nation

New National data revealed that New Jersey’s “brain drain” is the country’s worst. The Garden State had a net loss of almost 30,000 students in 2012. A lawmaker who is spearheading a package of 20 college affordability and accessibility bills said the legislature is working on addressing the issue.

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College classroom
(Carlos de Andres, Cover/Getty Images)

“It is just too expensive to go to a four-year institution and get a degree,” said Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-Bridgeton), chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “We have a bill right now where we could say ‘tuition freeze across-the-board for state institutions.’ That bill is doable.”

The National Center for Education Statistics report showed that in 2012, 34,875 students left the Garden State to attend colleges elsewhere, while only 5,638 out-of-staters enrolled in New Jersey colleges and universities. The net loss was 29,237 students.

“We have to change the conversation for that student who is leaving the state of New Jersey and keeping them here,” Riley said.

Affordability issues may be the top problem Riley said, but accessibility is another issue because New Jersey’s colleges and universities don’t have enough classroom or dormitory space to accommodate all of the state’s students should they decide to enroll in college here.

“This brain drain is absolutely one of our most important issues that we face as a state,” Riley explained.

The assemblywoman has been holding hearings across the state gathering input on the 20-bill package. She said addressing college affordability and accessibility will be her number-one priority when the legislature returns in the fall.

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