TRENTON, NJ - The Senate Higher Education Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Kyrillos to decrease costs and increase transparency at higher education institutions by requiring colleges to publish an online breakdown of student fees and allow students to decline certain expenses.

The legislation, S-703, was originally introduced in 2011 after public outrage over the use of Rutgers University student activities funds to give Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi $32,000 to advise students: “Study hard, but party harder.”

“The growing cost of pursuing higher education is staggering, with many New Jersey students struggling to foot the bill and finish their degrees,” said Senator Kyrillos (R-Monmouth). “College students and their families should know exactly what they’re paying for, before their money is taken. By offering them the chance to opt-out, we are giving students the opportunity to create and pay for the college experience they want, instead of forcing them to pay for frivolous events that do not contribute to the quality education that they deserve.”

S-703 requires all higher education institutions to publish a full breakdown of student fees on the web. The fees must be sorted into categories, including “student managed entertainment” and “capitol improvement.” The bill would allow students to affirmatively opt-out of student-managed entertainment fees.

Under the bill, higher education intuitions must include the fee breakdown online and in an annual student consumer information report. Optional fee descriptions must state the nature of the item and overall cost. In an effort to simplify the process, the categories used in the report must be the same as those used on tuition bills. Students would not be able to opt out of costs covering capitol improvements, such as those needed for libraries, technology, health facilities, infrastructure.

“In order to make college more affordable for all New Jerseyans, colleges and universities must be more transparent and accountable when it comes to the cost of higher education,” Senator Kyrillos concluded.