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It Is An Exciting Time To Be A College Student Here In New Jersey
7/5/2022 |
By Isabella Berdugo-Hernandez and Thyquel Halley | Student Advisory Committee

As the current student Board members of New Jersey’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), we know first-hand that college access and affordability is a top priority for New Jersey. The opportunities are here and now. Gone are the days when a higher education degree was something available to only the privileged. A postsecondary degree is now within reach for more New Jerseyans than ever before.

Despite a global pandemic, HESAA’s Board pushed forward to expand the financial aid support the State gives students. We approved increased Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) awards across all institutions: community colleges, as well as both public and private universities. TAG is already the national leader in need-based aid and serves as the foundation for building equity so that all students have equal access to higher education opportunities in New Jersey.

For the first time this fall, students across the state will be attending college with financial aid from the New Jersey College Promise Program. Students who have earned their associate’s degree from their local community college with the support of the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) will now attend one of our senior public universities with the support of the Garden State Guarantee (GSG).

Together, CCOG and GSG make up Governor Murphy’s College Promise program -- a promise of a tuition-free education for many eligible students; a promise that the State supports those who want to achieve more; and a promise of a better life for many people and a better New Jersey for us all.

We are among the first recipients of the New Jersey College Promise Program’s pathway to a tuition-free degree. The Community College Opportunity Grant program provides a last-dollar scholarship to families who qualify. Initially funded in 2019 and signed into law in February 2021, the first part of the promise has already supported over 40,000 students. That is worth repeating – more than 40,000 residents have already improved their lives, their families, their earning potential, and our local, growing economy.

The second half of the College Promise is the Garden State Guarantee. This covers the third and fourth years of a bachelor’s degree, paving the way for eligible students to continue their studies beyond an associate’s degree by earning a tuition-free bachelor’s degree at any New Jersey public institution.

Students from families with incomes between $0 and $65,000 qualify for the program’s “tuition-free” net price guarantee. The New Jersey College Promise is leveling the playing field to allow far more New Jersey students the opportunity to achieve a college degree. No matter your zip code or how many candles were on your most recent birthday cake, the New Jersey College Promise will support you in your pursuit of a degree while also supporting you in your pursuit of a better life.

And the momentum is growing. More than ever before, colleges and universities across the state are finding new ways to support students through their own financial aid programs built on the foundation of the College Promise. 

Now is the time to earn your degree. New Jersey even makes the process nearly effortless for students to apply for the support they need to go to college. You only need to complete ONE application, either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the New Jersey Alternate Financial Aid Application for those who qualify as NJ Dreamers. HESAA has organized online helpful resources here:

Please join us as we continue our own tuition-free pathway to a postsecondary degree here in the Garden State. We promise you that your older self will be glad you did!