"The New Jersey Pay It Forward stipend and emergency funds helped me focus on my classes and worry less," said Eunice Rivera, a graduate of the program who accepted an offer to become an intensive care unit nurse at a nearby hospital.
"The no-interest loan helps me stay in the here and now, instead of worrying too much about compounding interest that I would have to pay in the future."
To close equity gaps in higher education and to support economic growth, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) partnered with the NJ CEO Council and Social Finance to launch the New Jersey Pay It Forward Program in 2022.
The first-of-its-kind in the United States, the $12.5 million program prepares students for careers in growth-fueled industries such as health care, green energy, and Information Technology (IT).
New Jersey Pay It Forward is designed to help participants enroll in and graduate from high-quality academic and training program and provides zero-interest, no-fee loans, non-repayable living stipends, access to emergency aid funds, and supportive services like mental health counseling for students.
HCCC is the first institution of higher education in New Jersey selected to participate in the health care segment of the Pay It Forward Program.
"I commend the students graduating today on their hard work and dedication in making it to this point. I look forward to seeing the first group of graduates from our Pay It Forward Program go on to succeed in their careers and help enable the success of future cohorts of eager students," added Murphy.
"I know great things are ahead for each and every one of these nursing students, who will significantly assist communities throughout our state by filling critical roles among New Jersey's health care workforce."
The HCCC Associate of Science (A.S.) in Nursing Degree Program was chosen for its proven, high-quality training, and track record of strong employment outcomes, employer relationships, and experience serving diverse learners.
"We are incredibly proud of our first Pay It Forward Program Nursing graduates. A college degree is the great equalizer on the path to a sustainable career and enjoyable life. It provides the means to secure one's family, and to help our community thrive," stated HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber.
"We are thankful to the State of New Jersey, Social Finance, and the NJ CEO Council for providing the resources to make students' dreams realities, and for recognizing our Nursing Program as a vital component in helping students attain success."