Taking on one of the hardest issues to tackle, a new report out of Richard Stockton College offers key recommendations for policymakers on how to make college more accessible, affordable and valuable for students and their families.

Scott Olson, Getty Images

The lengthy report from Higher Education Strategic Information & Governance, part of the school's William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, was based on surveys of citizens and "executive roundtables" that included educators and business leaders in New Jersey.

Among the recommendations was the call for a redesign of student financial programs, claiming the current "one-size-fits-all" approach no longer works.

Darryl Greer, senior fellow with HESIG, said New Jersey's aid programs rank among the top in the nation, but they're outdated and need to come in line with the current student population.

"We need to start thinking about different types of student aid programs to fit different populations in a different era," Greer said.

The report's recommendations focused largely on alternative methods of earning credits toward a degree. One bullet point said broadened partnerships with schools can allow college-level credit to be achieved at the high-school level, perhaps reducing the overall cost of college and the time needed to graduate.

Another suggestion said students could benefit from earning credit for "evidence of knowledge gained outside of college."

"For example, if they work in a business, they may be able to pass out of a finance course, or of a management course," Greer said.

According to Greer, the overarching message of the report's recommendations was the need to marry practical in-college experiences with academic skills and abilities in order to add value to a student's education.

With that, he said, outgoing students can start solid careers and prosper in New Jersey.