10 N.J. universities create N.J. Scholar Corps Program with goal of bringing in-state students home

The presidents of 10 of New Jersey’s public universities and colleges Tuesday launched the New Jersey Scholar Corps Program, an initiative encouraging in-state students to come home to complete their higher education while helping to rebuild the state.

“This is an unprecedented period in our history, a time that calls for everyday heroes to show up and give back,” they said in a joint statement. “Think of the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. Think of those natural disasters and crises when young people turned out to fight for what’s right, to push us toward a hopeful future.”

The participating institutions include: Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, Kean University, New Jersey City University, Ramapo College, Stockton University, The College of New Jersey, Thomas Edison State University and William Paterson University.

The presidents are attempting to attract the more than 120,000 state residents who attend higher education institutions outside of New Jersey, as more than 30,000 per year typically leave the state.

Financial incentives to return home were not announced — aside from the fact that students will pay in-state rates, traditionally cheaper than out-of-state tuition.

The schools, however, said they will accept all credits earned with a grade of “C” or better from an accredited out-of-state college or university, promise a speedy review of applications and offer guaranteed housing, where available, based on availability at the time the student commits.

More than that, the presidents said the New Jersey Scholar Corps will provide students with volunteer opportunities to serve their local communities, while gaining valuable experience and building their professional networks.

“With so many colleges and universities in the state, we already have a tremendous impact on social services throughout the region,” they wrote. “Through the New Jersey Scholar Corps, we intend to intensify our efforts and help our communities bounce back. Each institution is committed to investing more energy into its volunteer efforts, working with community organizations like never before.

“Whether it’s restocking the shelves at local food banks, coordinating family assistance programs or volunteering to help frontline workers, each institution will work with local communities and develop programs that fit the area’s needs. Specific details will depend, of course, on the timeline for reopening our state.

“We’ve already seen numerous examples of young people throughout our communities finding ways to serve during this public health crisis. Now, we need your ideas, your creativity, your entrepreneurship, your desire to give back right here and right now, in the state we call home.”

Students and families may learn more about this new initiative at NJComeHome.org.

Here are some of the presidents discussing their vision of the program:

NJCU’s Sue Henderson

“This initiative helps New Jersey students stay close to home with the people who matter most and eases their higher education financial burden with low in-state tuition rates. Just as importantly, many young people are wondering what they can do to help during the COVID-19 crisis and the New Jersey Scholar Corps — much like the Peace Corps — is a powerful way to channel that energy for maximum impact. As an anchor institution for the Jersey City community, this is an unprecedented opportunity for NJCU to further strengthen our ties with local residents and organizations as we transition through this challenging time.”

NJIT’s Joel Bloom

“Higher education has many important roles to play in our state’s recovery from this pandemic. We need to continue pursuing critical lines of research and technological innovation, support those on the front lines of the battle against this virus and create opportunities for New Jersey students to contribute to this effort in multiple ways. That includes both facilitating a seamless return home for many students and providing them with a program through which they can engage in meaningful service that will help our state and our communities overcome the challenges we now face.”

Montclair State’s Susan Cole

“Our state will soon face the enormous and challenging task of rebuilding our economy and our communities. We are asking students who had started their college education in an out-of-state institution to consider returning to their home state to complete their degrees. At this difficult time, New Jersey absolutely needs the energy, intelligence and commitment of our college-aged population. Montclair State University and our sister public colleges and universities are prepared to make transfer back to New Jersey easy and seamless and to provide our students with opportunities to contribute their talents to the revitalization of the state they call home.”

Rowan’s Ali Houshmand

“We have already seen an uptick in students showing an interest in staying in state to attend college. The NJ Come Home campaign provides an added incentive, particularly those who are looking to make a difference in the lives of others. For those studying out of state, now is the time to consider staying home here in New Jersey.”

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