Murphy promises college loan forgiveness plan at Propelify fest

Gov. Phil Murphy said his administration will soon be introducing a program that would forgive a yet-to-be-determined college loan amount if students stay in the state to work after graduation.

“If you stay in New Jersey and go to college in New Jersey, you major in a field we are emphasizing and stay in New Jersey and work in that field, we’ll forgive ‘X’ thousands of dollars per year off your outstanding student loan balance,” Murphy said.

He spoke to a crowd of about 100 at the Propelify festival Thursday at the Hoboken Waterfront.

Similar programs have been introduced in medical education in California, and have existed in the military and public health programs for some time.

The state sought to pursue a similar course in 2013, for medical students, but was unsuccessful.

Murphy did not elaborate on which industries would be included, but repeated the statistics that, despite maintaining a reputation as a top state for public education, the state is the highest to export high school and college kids.

“We need more kids, young people, to have access to higher education, generally, but to community college in particular,” he said. “It’s getting back to investing in the stuff and doing the stuff we used to do naturally, that led to AT&T and Bell Labs and Sarnoff Labs and the big bio and life sciences and health care companies.”

Part of the attraction for these students will have to be making the rest of New Jersey as cool as Hudson County, Murphy said.

“When people think of corporate New Jersey, they think of those low-slung, three-story spaceship headquarters in the suburbs and bedroom communities built up around them. I have four kids; someday, they may live there, but that someday isn’t until a decade or two,” he said.

Which is why there are a number of different sectors and investors needed to boost the reputation and lifestyle options for those graduates.

“There’s lots of different pieces,” he said. “I’m announcing today that the Jobs and Opportunity Economic Council has been charged to develop a strategic plan for the innovation economy specifically. Although we’ve got some new ideas, the question is how do you knit all those pieces together? We’ve not had the leadership in the state, of late, that wants to do or is capable of doing — I’m not sure (which) — I promise you we are laser focused on doing just that.”

Murphy added he is increasingly seeing the larger corporate citizens of the state embrace startups. They don’t see startups as competition, rather as partners to help them boost their own profiles and workforce in the future.