The New Jersey "brain drain" problem continues and the flow of students attending college out of state is being seen as a major factor.

New Jersey's 'brain drain' continues. (Design Pics, ThinkStock)

New data shows 37 percent of graduating high schools senior attend college out-of-state, and in order to accommodate everyone from New Jersey who would like to stay here to go to school, the system would have to expand by 44 percent.

More high school graduates from New Jersey go out of state for college than almost any other state. Only Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut have higher rates.

According to Michael Klein, the executive director of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, the brain drain problem is happening for many reasons including the state's lack of capacity. In addition, he said, some young adults may follow family tradition and attend the school where their mother, father or siblings went.

Klein also said New Jersey is an affluent state and parents have the means to send their children out-of-state to private institutions, and many top colleges in other states are attracting New Jersey students with generous scholarships.

So why don't we have the capacity we need?

"We've been playing catch-up for a long time," he said. "We came very late to the public higher education game, it really wasn't until the 1960's that the old state teachers colleges were granted the legal authority to be more comprehensive."

Klein said the tide is starting to turn, thanks to a $750 million Building Our Future bond act that was approved three years ago by New Jersey voters.

"Construction is picking up on campuses across the state. We're building science labs, laboratories, classroom space, the kind of 21 Century facilities that our institutions need to attract students to stay here. There hadn't been a source of money for that to the institutions since 1988," he said.

Klein predicted in the next four to five years "this will go a long way toward addressing part of the brain drain that we're seeing."