TRENTON, NJ - A bill that would give current high school sophomores and juniors an optional “bridge year” passed the New Jersey State Senate by a 39-0 vote and will go on to the New Jersey State Assembly for vote on June 15, where it is expected to pass. It also has the support of the Governor’s office and the New Jersey Department of Education.
The bill (S-2383) which was sponsored by Wood-Ridge Mayor and New Jersey State Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) and Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz (D- Essex), would allow students to earn up to 24 credits at a community college while allowing them to remain eligible for athletics in the spring. They would also be able to participate in any school sanctioned non-athletic activity as well.
As part of the bill, all public universities in the state of New Jersey would be required to accept all the credits earned. Furthermore, the legislation does not require, but recommends, that private institutions of higher education that receive financial public support also consider accepting all 24 college credits.
“We are also confident that other state universities will take the classes,” Sarlo stated. “If they don’t accept them as core classes, they will accept them as electives.”
“I believe sophomores and juniors are the ones most significantly impacted here,” Sarlo said. “They don’t realize it, but these are critical years for their higher education careers, and they’ve been impacted through no fault of their own.”
After receiving their high school diploma, students would be required to enroll at a New Jersey county community college as a non-matriculated student. They must take 12 college level credits during the fall and spring semesters.
Community colleges would agree to charge students $145/credit inclusive of all fees except any science lab fees which can be charged a maximum of $45/course. Bridge Year students could apply to take their college board tests as if they were a senior in high school, and must maintain a 2.25 GPA for college credits.
There will be no cost to the public-school districts in New Jersey, and there is are no overcrowding issues or space issues as students will be learning remotely.
Under the proposal, students would only be able to play spring sports for the school they attended junior year and must meet the age participation requirements of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Association. They would have to declare for the bridge year before the beginning of the second semester of their senior year.
The bill covers only the 2021 and 2022 graduating classes, but could be extended if there is a need, according to Sarlo.
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