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Debt Sentence

Debt Sentence: The Effects of New Jersey’s Declining Public Investment in Higher Education

James DiGenno, Kevin Llangari, Michelle Mayer, Adam Sherman

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Across the United States public investment in higher education at the state level has consistently trended downward. Simultaneously, student enrollment has steadily gone up. This combination means that public universities are increasingly expected to educate greater numbers with less funding, pushing more and more students into taking on larger and larger amounts of student loan debt.

New Jersey, far from an exception, has seen one of the largest decreases in funding per pupil when compared to other states in the Northeast and the national average. The state also falls well above average for student loan debt. In response, some may find it more difficult to complete their degrees, be forced to do so part time, be prevented from attending at all, or leave the state to do so. For those who do attend and complete degrees, their delayed earnings potential and more immediate repayment requirements sometimes translate into higher rates of delinquency and default, and concurrent declines in participation in the economy — they are less likely to buy cars and homes or start families.