Murphy names 13 community colleges chosen for free tuition pilot program

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday that 13,000 qualifying students will be able to attend one of 13 New Jersey community colleges free of tuition and fees in the spring semester under a pilot program that starts in January.

All 19 community colleges located in the state applied to participate in the Community College Innovation Challenge, and these 13 were selected by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority:

  • Atlantic Cape Community College;
  • Bergen Community College;
  • Camden County College;
  • Cumberland County College;
  • Hudson County Community College;
  • Mercer County Community College;
  • Middlesex County College;
  • Ocean County College;
  • Passaic County Community College;
  • Rowan College at Gloucester County;
  • Salem Community College;
  • Union County College; and
  • Warren County Community College.

All 19 of the state’s two-year schools will receive a $250,000 grant for student outreach, recruitment and support, as well as to build capacity for future expansion of the program, the Governor’s Office said.

“Today, we are putting the dream of higher education within reach of more students and more families,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “Making community college tuition-free will help New Jersey’s young people and working adults earn post-secondary degrees to advance their careers — and it will help build the talented workforce that is the engine of our state’s economy.”

Students enrolled at least half-time at the pilot colleges will be eligible to receive “last dollar” grants to cover any remaining costs of tuition and fees after all other financial aid. For the spring semester, students from families with adjusted gross incomes of less than $45,000 will be eligible, and students must maintain academic progress to retain eligibility.

“Our hope is that all 19 community colleges will benefit from learnings during this pilot phrase,” Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis said in a statement. “Every college submitted a unique, thoughtful and creative application, with many good ideas for increasing access and affordability tailored to the students and communities that each college serves.”

Smith Ellis said it is her hope that the program can be extended to every community college in fall 2019.

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