SENATE, No. 3085

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  ROBERT M. GORDON

District 38 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes loan redemption program for persons with Master’s Degree in Business Administration or other business-related fields of study or Juris Doctorate and provide consulting or legal services to small business and legal services clients.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act establishing a loan redemption program for certain graduates who provide volunteer services and supplementing chapter 71C of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  As used in this act:

     “Approved course of study” means a graduate level program leading to a Master’s in Business Administration or a Master’s Degree in Accounting, Finance, Informational Systems, Marketing, Management, Organizational Management, or other business-related field of study as determined by the authority, or leading to a Juris Doctorate.

     “Authority” means the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority established pursuant to N.J.S.18A:71A-3.

     “Eligible qualifying loan expenses” means, in the case of an applicant who has graduated from an approved course of study, the cumulative outstanding balance of student loans covering the cost of attendance while enrolled in the approved course of study at the time the applicant is selected for the loan redemption program; and in the case of an applicant who is enrolled in an approved course of study at the time the applicant is selected for the loan redemption program, the cumulative outstanding balance of student loans covering the cost of attendance for the approved course of study at the time of graduation from the approved course of study.

     Interest paid or due on qualifying loans shall be considered eligible for reimbursement under the program.

     “Full-time” means a minimum of 35 hours per week.

     “Program participant” means a person who, following the effective date of this act, provides volunteer business consulting or legal services pursuant to the provisions of this act and enters into a redemption contract with the authority.

     “Qualifying loan” means a government or commercial loan for the actual costs paid for tuition and reasonable education and living expenses relating to an approved course of study.

     “Small business” means a business which has its principal place of business in the State, is independently owned and operated, and meets all other qualifications as may be established in accordance with P.L.1987, c.55 (C.52:27H-21.7 et seq.).

 

     2.    There is established in the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority a loan redemption program for persons who hold a Master’s in Business Administration or a Master’s Degree in Accounting, Finance, Informational Systems, Marketing, Management, Organizational Management, or other business-related field of study as determined by the authority, or a Juris Doctorate, and who provide volunteer business consulting or legal services to a small business through the New Jersey Business Action Center in the Department of State or who provide volunteer legal services through Legal Services of New Jersey.  A person who holds an undergraduate degree in a business-related field and who is enrolled in a business-related graduate level program and who provides such volunteer service may also participate in the loan redemption program.  The program shall provide for the redemption of a portion of the eligible qualifying loan expenses for each year of volunteer service.

 

     3.    To be eligible to participate in the program, a person shall:

     a.     be a resident of the State and maintain domicile in the State during participation in the program;

     b.  have graduated from an approved course of study or have a baccalaureate degree in a business-related field and be enrolled in a business-related approved course of study, offered by an accredited institution of higher education;

     c.  have been selected by the New Jersey Business Action Center to provide volunteer consulting or legal services to a small business or selected by Legal Services of New Jersey to provide volunteer legal services to its clients;

     d.  agree to perform the required volunteer service obligation in accordance with section 4 of this act; and

     e.  satisfy any additional criteria the authority may establish.

 

     4.    a.  A program participant may redeem eligible qualifying loan expenses upon execution of a contract between the program participant and the authority.  The contract shall be for a specified number of one-year periods, shall indicate if the volunteer service is to be provided on a full-time or part-time basis during the one-year period, and shall specify the total amount of debt to be redeemed by the State in return for service pursuant to subsection b. of this section.

     b.  The maximum redemption of loans under the program shall amount to 15% of principal and interest of eligible qualifying loan expenses in return for one full year of full-time volunteer service, an additional 15% for a second full year of full-time volunteer service, and an additional 15% for a third full year of full-time volunteer service, for a total redemption of 45% of eligible qualifying loan expenses.  In the event that the redemption contract provides that the volunteer service shall be provided on a part-time basis, the authority shall prorate the annual loan redemption amount in accordance with the number of hours of volunteer service provided by the program participant during that year.

     Prior to the annual redemption of loan indebtedness, a program participant shall submit to the authority proof of the required volunteer service certified by the New Jersey Business Action Center or Legal Services of New Jersey, as appropriate.

     In the case of a program participant who is enrolled in an approved course of study at the time of participation in the loan redemption program, the authority shall redeem the eligible qualifying loan expenses upon the graduation of the program participant from the approved course of study.

     c.     A program participant who has entered into a redemption contract with the authority may nullify the contract by submitting written notification to the authority and assuming full responsibility for repayment of principal and interest on the full amount of his loans or that portion of the loans which has not been redeemed by the State in return for partial fulfillment of the contract.

     d.    In case of a program participant’s death or total and permanent disability, the authority shall nullify the service obligation of the program participant.  The nullification shall terminate the authority’s obligations under the loan redemption contract.  If continued enforcement of the contract results in extreme hardship, the authority may nullify or suspend the service obligation of the program participant.

     e.     In the case of a program participant’s conviction of a crime or an act of gross negligence in the performance of service obligations, the authority is authorized to terminate the program participant’s participation in the program.

 

     5.  The New Jersey Business Action Center or Legal Services of New Jersey may provide a program participant who is providing full-time volunteer service under the redemption program with a stipend in such amount as it determines but which shall not exceed $30,000 per year.

 

     6.  The authority shall annually submit a report on the program to the Governor, and to the Legislature pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1).  The report shall be submitted no later than August 1 of each year and shall include, but not be limited to, information on the total number of participants receiving loan redemption under the program, the number of participants who are providing volunteer services on a full-time basis and those providing volunteer services on a part-time basis, the number of participants who are graduates of an approved program and the number who are enrolled in an approved program, the number of participants who are providing small business consulting and legal services through the New Jersey Business Action Center and the number of participants who are providing legal services through Legal Services of New Jersey, and the impact of the program on the enhancement of small business in the State and on providing legal services to the poor.

 

     7.  The Higher Education Student Assistance Authority shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), necessary to implement the provisions of this act.  The authority shall consult with the New Jersey Business Action Center and Legal Services of New Jersey prior to the adoption of the rules and regulations.

 

     8.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes a loan redemption program in the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority for persons who hold a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or a Master’s Degree in Accounting, Finance, Informational Systems, Marketing, Management, Organizational Management, or other business-related field of study as determined by the authority, or a Juris Doctorate, and who provide volunteer business consulting or legal services to a small business through the New Jersey Business Action Center or provide volunteer legal services through Legal Services of New Jersey.  A person who holds an undergraduate degree in a business-related field and who is enrolled in a business-related graduate level program and who provides such volunteer service may also participate in the loan redemption program. The bill defines the above categories of graduate level programs as approved courses of study.

     To be eligible to participate in the program, a person must:  (1) be a resident of New Jersey and maintain domicile in the State during participation in the program; (2) have graduated from an approved course of study or have a baccalaureate degree in a business-related field and be enrolled in a business-related approved course of study, offered by an accredited institution of higher education; (3) have been selected by the New Jersey Business Action Center to provide volunteer consulting or legal services to a small business or selected by Legal Services of New Jersey to provide volunteer legal services to its clients; and (4) agree to perform the required volunteer service obligation.

     Under the bill, a program participant would redeem 15% of eligible qualifying loan expenses for each full year of full-time volunteer service for a total redemption of 45% of eligible qualifying loan expenses.  In the event that the redemption contract provides that the volunteer service will be provided on a part-time basis, the authority will prorate the annual loan redemption amount in accordance with the number of hours of volunteer service provided by the program participant during that year.  Prior to the annual redemption of loan indebtedness, a program participant must submit proof to the authority of the required volunteer service certified by the New Jersey Business Action Center or Legal Services of New Jersey, as appropriate.  In the case of a program participant who is enrolled in an approved course of study at the time of participation in the loan redemption program, the authority will redeem the eligible qualifying loan expenses upon the graduation of the program participant from the approved course of study.

     The purpose of this bill is to encourage graduates with particular areas of expertise to lend that expertise to the enhancement and development of small business in the State as well as to assist the State’s low-income residents with legal issues they may face.  This bill will provide a pool of individuals who may serve as a resource  for the clients served by the New Jersey Business Action Center and Legal Services of New Jersey.