The New Jersey Senate Higher Education Committee has advanced legislation to require higher education institutions to provide federal and state student loan repayment programs information to students.

S-1823 requires schools to provide information about student loan repayment programs to graduating students with outstanding student loan debt. Schools must provide the information either during an in-person exit interview or via mailed documentation.

“Many people in New Jersey, as well as around the country, have struggled with student loan repayment and may be unaware of the options available to them,” Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said in a news release.

“Under my legislation, colleges and universities in New Jersey will be required to tell graduating students about the various state and federal repayment programs that are available,” Kean added. “Our hardworking, soon-to-be graduates deserve to be properly informed so that their student loan debt does not become unmanageable in the future.”

The measure also requires schools to estimate the total amount of debt and the full potential payoff amount. On Monday, the Assembly Higher Education Committee advanced their version of the bill, A-2286.

Last month, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal joined attorneys general from other states in sending a letter to national leaders in support of resolutions urging President Joe Biden to use an executive order to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per student.

Separately, the American Rescue Plan that Congress passed includes a provision to make any forgiven college loan tax-free. Proponents say the action opens the door to Biden’s executive action.

“Millions of Americans were already drowning under a mountain of student loan debt before getting hit with the economic impact of COVID-19,” U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in a statement. “And when they’re lucky enough to get some relief, the government shouldn’t then tie a heavy tax anchor to their financial life line.

“We now have a tremendous opportunity to relieve this paralyzing weight and that opportunity should not be jeopardized by an arbitrary tax bill on unrecognized income,” Menendez added. “I’m hopeful this will pave the way for President Biden to provide real debt relief so many student borrowers need, and give a boost to our economy that benefits everyone.”

According to a release from Menendez, more than 43 million Americans have $1.6 trillion in combined federal student loan debt.

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