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President Mercer Appointed to College Affordability Study Commission

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)March 23, 2015

MAHWAH, NJ — Governor Chris Christie appointed President Peter P. Mercer, Ph.D., of Ramapo College of New Jersey to serve on the College Affordability Study Commission. The 10-member panel is charged with examining issues and developing recommendations to increase the affordability of higher education in New Jersey. The Commission will issue its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the Senate Higher Education Committee and the Assembly Higher Education Committee no later than 12 months after its organization.

Under the bill’s provisions, the Commission will examine issues such as:

  • The creation of an Accelerated Medical Degree Pilot Program to offer high performing high school students interested in pursuing a medical degree or graduate-level science or engineering degree the opportunity of receiving that degree earlier than would be possible under a traditional program;
  • The creation of an Affordable Degree Pilot Program to permit students to earn a baccalaureate degree at a discounted tuition rate through a degree program partnership between a county college and a four-year public institution of higher education;
  • The creation of a Pay It Forward Pilot Program to replace the current system of charging students tuition and fees for enrollment at public institutions of higher education and instead allow students to pay back a percentage of their income for a certain number of years;
  • Methods to increase the performance of the New Jersey Better Educational Savings Trust (NJBEST) including: setting specific high standards for the selection of the investment manager; improving investment options available to the investor; determining possible alternatives to the NJBEST Scholarship; and allowing a gross income tax deduction for amounts contributed to NJBEST accounts;
  • Changes to the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) Loan Program to increase disclosure and make the program more consumer-friendly for student and parent borrowers including: advertisement of the Annual Percentage Rate for NJCLASS loans; options for a co-signer or guarantor on a loan; an option for deferred loan payment of principal and interest while in school with a 10-15 year repayment period; and NJCLASS loan consolidation interest rates that more closely reflect market conditions; and
  • Any other proposals that the commission believes would increase the affordability of higher education in the State.

“Higher education provides the pathway to opportunity that will enable this generation of students to contribute to society,” said President Mercer. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the commission.”

Dr. Mercer became Ramapo College’s fourth president on July 1, 2005. He previously served as dean of the law school and then as vice president (administration) and general counsel at the University of Western Ontario, where he was a professor of law.



About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per

Ramapo College provides its students with individualized attention, mentorship, and supports; hands-on learning; and a range of opportunities for service and leadership development. Its graduation and retention rates exceed national averages and it places approximately 1,000 students per year in internships in New York City. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice; is recognized as the state’s top college on the list of Best Disability Schools by Great Value Colleges; is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools; and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others.  

Ramapo College’s over 40,000 alumni are the confident, intellectually curious, self-aware, and humble people who are highly sought after and who make a positive impact at local, national, and global levels.  Ramapo College is distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by Every student at Ramapo is enrolled in its unique and award winning Pathways Program which equips and empowers students, across the continuum of their academic career, to secure internships, pursue graduate/professional school, and/or enter the job market. 

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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