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Tuition Aid Grant (TAG)

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Tuition Aid Grant (TAG)

The Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) offers need-based assistance to New Jersey students enrolled at approved New Jersey higher education institutions, covering a substantial portion of tuition for nearly one-third of all full-time undergraduate students.

New Jersey is a leader in delivering financial aid, awarding one of the nation’s highest amounts of State-funded need-based grant dollars per undergraduate student. Since 1978, the TAG program has played a central role in New Jersey’s commitment to making postsecondary education more affordable and supporting economic mobility. By helping students with demonstrated financial need pay for an undergraduate degree, TAG awards enable many students to attend college who otherwise would not be able to pursue higher education to advance their life and career goals.

Eligible students can receive TAG while studying for degrees from institutions in all sectors – public, private, two-year, and four-year colleges and universities. To support student access and choice among multiple higher education options, TAG award amounts vary based on the type of institution at which students enroll. For the updated schedule of TAG awards, click here.

Summer Tuition Aid Grants

HESAA offers Summer TAG awards to eligible students. These grants help reduce students’ financial barriers to taking additional classes during summer terms after the traditional fall/spring academic year. Summer coursework allows many students to accelerate their studies, earning a degree faster and taking on less overall student loan debt.

Students may be eligible to receive Summer TAG while enrolled in at least six credit hours during the summer 2024 term, provided that they received a TAG award in the immediately prior fall and/or spring term, and their summer courses are in the same undergraduate program at the same institution at which the student enrolled during the preceding academic year.

Tuition Aid Grant Eligibility Inquiries

  • Your eligibility may be reevaluated if there is an error in the information reported. See your financial aid officer for assistance in correcting errors by the state deadlines.
  • If there has been a change in your family’s circumstances because of death, disability, retirement, divorce or separation, loss of untaxed income or change in employment status see your financial aid officer for assistance in reporting these changes by the state deadlines.
  • Consideration of appeals of ineligibility for reasons other than the ones listed above, must be submitted in writing or e-mail within 60 days of your first notification, addressed to the Director of Grants and Scholarships at PO BOX 540, Trenton NJ, 08625-0540, or Grants_Scholarships@hesaa.org. Please be sure to include the student’s NJFAMS ID number and student's full name.

In accordance with State law, the value of your grant may decrease depending upon appropriated funds, actual tuition charges, cost of attendance, estimated family contribution and other available resources.

Penalty For False Information – If you qualify for state student financial assistance by purposely reporting false or misleading information, you may be subject to a $20,000 fine and/or imprisonment.

Tuition Aid Grant Eligibility Q&A

Some students and families experience issues that may impact their ability to contribute to educational expenses. In these situations, a financial aid officer at your college can evaluate your circumstances and decide if a change in eligibility is warranted. Every school has their own change in family circumstances policies and procedures, however, only the following circumstances will be considered in determining your eligibility for state financial aid:

  • Unemployed – Parent due to lay off/lack of work/lost job
  • Disability of a parent wage earner
  • Retirement
  • Death
  • Separation/Divorce
  • Loss of untaxed income or unemployment benefits
  • Student’s loss of full-time work

Changes in circumstances that will not be considered in determining your eligibility for state financial aid include:

  • Loss or change in amount of overtime
  • loss of second or part-time job
  • furlough
  • removal of cancelled debt
  • gambling winnings, or
  • a one-time occurrence of taxable income (exception: early retirement savings withdrawal due to economic hardship, and form 5329 must be filed with federal tax returns).

Please note these lists apply for state aid eligibility only, and may not apply in determining your federal aid eligibility.

If a student or parent has experienced any of the circumstances that may impact your state financial aid, as listed above, please visit the financial aid office of the college you are attending for further instructions.

A dependent student, as defined in N.J.A.C. 9A:9-2.6, is presumed to be a resident of the State in which his or her parent(s) reside. To be eligible to participate in State grant and scholarship programs, dependent students whose parent(s) do not reside in New Jersey must establish that they are a New Jersey resident notwithstanding the residency of their parent(s).

Establishing New Jersey Residency Notwithstanding Parents’ Residency

Dependent students who have been a resident of New Jersey for at least 12 months prior to the start of college and are not residing in New Jersey for the sole purpose of receiving an education, can request a review of HESAA’s preliminary decision of non-eligibility by providing HESAA with documentation including but not limited to:

  • Proof of graduation from a NJ high school or a NJ GED. Currently enrolled New Jersey high school seniors can submit a high school transcript, A copy of the parent’s or student’s most recent New Jersey resident income tax return as applicable;
  • A copy of the parent’s or student’s New Jersey driver license or state identification as applicable;
  • Evidence of the parent’s or student’s home ownership or a long-term lease in NJ as applicable; and
  • Such additional documentation as may be deemed necessary by HESAA upon specific review of the student’s application.

OR meet the requirements of P.L. 2018 c. 12:

  • Attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years;
  • Graduated from a New Jersey high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey;
  • In the case of a student without lawful immigration status, are able to file an affidavit stating that the student has filed an application to legalize their immigration status or will file an application as soon as they are eligible to do so.

The New Jersey residency requirements apply to all students: citizens, eligible non-citizens and New Jersey Dreamers

To be eligible to participate in State grant and scholarship programs, a dependent student, as defined in N.J.A.C. 9A:9-2.6, and the student’s parent must reside in New Jersey for a period of not less than 12 consecutive months immediately prior to the academic period for which State student assistance is being requested.

OR a dependent student must meet the requirements of P.L. 2018 c. 12:

  • Attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years
  • Graduated from a New Jersey high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey;
  • In the case of a student without lawful immigration status, is able to file an affidavit stating that the student has filed an application to legalize their immigration status or will file an application as soon as they are eligible to do so.

The New Jersey residency requirements apply to all students: citizens, eligible non-citizens and New Jersey Dreamers

To be eligible to participate in State grant and scholarship programs, an independent student, must reside in New Jersey for a period of not less than 12 consecutive months immediately prior to the academic period for which State student assistance is being requested.

OR meet the requirements of P.L. 2018 c. 12:

  • Attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years;
  • Graduated from a New Jersey high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey;
  • In the case of a student without lawful immigration status, are able to file an affidavit stating that the student has filed an application to legalize their immigration status or will file an application as soon as they are eligible to do so.

The New Jersey residency requirements apply to all students: citizens, eligible non-citizens and New Jersey Dreamers

Dependency Status for State Aid Eligibility

There are 13 dependency questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that determine if a student is a dependent student (where parental information is required) or independent (parental information not required) as determined by federal guidelines. HESAA follows the federal guidance for dependency status outlined on page 22-27 of the Federal Student Aid Handbook, except for the following circumstances:

Emancipated Minor

A student who answers “yes” to this question on the FAFSA will not be considered independent for state aid purposes. The term emancipated minor in family court orders has relevance only as it relates to the computation of certain child custody and child support obligations. Due to this limited application of emancipation, HESAA does not recognize this designation in deeming a student independent based on emancipation, and students will be required to provide parental information.

Legal Guardianship

A student who answers “yes” to this question on the FAFSA must provide acceptable documentation of this status to HESAA. There are some guardianship statuses that are not valid for the purposes of State student financial aid and the student will be required to provide parental information. For example, if the parent retained legal parental rights or was obligated to pay child support while the student was a minor, the student will be required to provide parental information. If a student is unable to provide acceptable guardianship documentation or parental information, he or she should consult with their financial aid administrator at their college. Please note that “legal custody” and “legal guardianship” are not the same designation for either Federal or State aid.

Homeless, Unaccompanied youth, or at Risk of being homeless

A student who answers “yes” to any of these three questions on the FAFSA must provide acceptable documentation of this status to HESAA. The acceptable documentation includes: verifiable letters from: School district or high school McKinney-Vento liaison, Director or designee of an emergency shelter, or Director or designee of a runaway or homeless youth basic center of transitional living program. Letters or documents from other sources are not acceptable to prove homeless, unaccompanied youth or at risk of being homeless.

Dependency Status Override for State Aid Eligibility

If an FAA determines that an override is appropriate, he or she must write a statement detailing the determination and must include the statement and supporting documentation in the student’s campus file. Additionally, the file must reflect the change was properly communicated to HESAA.

The override must not be made on the basis of any one (or combination) of the following unusual circumstances:

  • parents refusal to contribute to the student’s education;
  • parents unwillingness to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification;
  • parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
  • student demonstrates self-sufficiency;
  • student is not living with parents.

The override must be made on the basis of some other unusual circumstance such as:

  • abandonment by parents;
  • an abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety;
  • student is unable to locate his parents; or
  • parents removed from New Jersey by law.

A dependency status override must not be made by an institution to enable a student whose parents live in another state or country to meet the New Jersey residency requirement nor may a dependency status override be made to enable a student whose parent(s) live in another country to not be subject to the U.S. income verification requirement. A student who chooses not to live with their parents is not eligible for an independent over ride for homelessness or at risk for homelessness.

Income Verification Requirement: When the parent(s) lives outside of New Jersey and verification of parental income and assets cannot be completed because the parents do not file a U.S. Federal Income Tax return or have documented proof of taxable and/or untaxed income received through a U.S. federal or state agency, such as an IRS tax and wage transcript, unemployment, child support, alimony, welfare payments, Social Security benefits, or at least two benefits from any of the following federal programs: Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, TANF, WIC, etc., or receive documented state or federal aid refund , the student cannot be considered for State financial aid. Please note that this includes students whose parents filed a foreign tax return or whose parents were not required to file a foreign tax return and employees of the United Nations whose earnings are exempt from filing U.S. Federal Income Taxes.

Any questions in regards to dependency status should be directed to a financial aid administrator at the college you are attending.

Dependency Status Override for State Aid Eligibility

Students who feel their dependency status does not reflect their current circumstances, should see their financial aid administrator at the college they are attending to discuss a possible dependency override.

If a financial aid administrator determines that an override for New Jersey state financial aid is appropriate, they must write a statement detailing the determination and include supporting documentation in the student’s campus file. The file must reflect the change was properly communicated to HESAA.

The override cannot be made on the basis of any one (or combination) of the following unusual circumstances:

  • parents refusal to contribute to the student’s education;
  • parents unwillingness to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification;
  • parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
  • student demonstrates self-sufficiency;
  • student is not living with parents.
  • student chooses not to live with their parents.

The override must be made on the basis of some other unusual circumstance such as:

  • abandonment by parents;
  • an abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety;
  • student is unable to locate his parents; or
  • parents removed from New Jersey by law.

A dependency status override must not be made by an institution to enable a student whose parents live in another state or country to meet the New Jersey residency requirement nor may a dependency status override be made to enable a student whose parent(s) live in another country to not be subject to the U.S. income verification requirement. Nor may a dependency status override be made for a student who is here without their parents for the purpose of obtaining an education.

Reminder: When the parent(s) lives outside of New Jersey and verification of parental income and assets cannot be completed because the parents do not file a U.S. Federal Income Tax return or have documented proof of taxable and/or untaxed income received through a U.S. federal or state agency, such as an IRS tax and wage transcript, unemployment, child support, alimony, welfare payments, Social Security benefits, or at least two benefits from any of the following federal programs: Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, TANF, WIC, etc., or receive documented state or federal aid refund , the student cannot be considered for State financial aid. Please note that this includes students whose parents filed a foreign tax return or whose parents were not required to file a foreign tax return and employees of the United Nations whose earnings are exempt from filing U.S. Federal Income Taxes.

Any questions in regards to dependency status should be directed to a financial aid administrator at the college you are attending.

Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress and Consequences of Withdrawing from all or some of your courses.

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP) is a requirement for all students receiving state, federal, or in some instances, institutional assistance while enrolled at any college. Financial aid recipients must meet both a qualitative and a quantitative standard to maintain eligibility for aid. In addition, the student must complete the program within the maximum timeframe. The qualitative standard is determined by the student's cumulative grade point average (GPA) at a specific grade level. The quantitative standard is based on a student's completion rate, or the successful completion of a minimum number of credits of the total credits attempted. Students should consult with their college’s financial aid office for more information on their college’s SAP policy.

If you are thinking about withdrawing from all or some of your classes, it is strongly recommended you contact your academic advisor or financial aid office at your college to discuss how a withdrawal will impact your academic career, and financial aid status. It is also very important to follow the appropriate withdrawal procedure established by your college.

If you withdraw from all or some of your semester courses:

  • all or part of your financial aid (State grants, Federal grants and Federal/state loans) may be reduced or canceled;
  • if a state aid recipient is due a refund in accordance with the college’s refund policy, the college must return a portion of the student's state award(s) to the state;
  • you may have a balance due on your account because your financial aid award will require an adjustment;
  • you may not meet the satisfactory academic progress (SAP) requirements for continued financial aid eligibility, so future aid eligibility may be jeopardized;
  • you may have to begin repaying your student loans if you remain out of school longer than six months; and
  • repeated withdrawals may cause you to reach loan aggregate limits more quickly and result in your ineligibility to borrow in future years.

Appeals for SAP must be submitted to the college financial aid office.

There are times when the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) may require students and parents to verify the information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application.

Verification requires the comparison of information reported on the FAFSA or New Jersey Alternative Application with information reported on U.S. Federal Income Tax Return(s), tax schedules, and related asset information. Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 9A:9-2.7, upon request parents and students (and/or spouses, if applicable), must provide a federal “Income Tax Transcript” or, if income does not meet the minimum threshold required to file taxes a “Wage and Income transcript”, for verification purposes.

If no tax returns were filed for the year requested or tax returns filed had no positive income, documented proof of taxable and/or untaxed income received through a U.S. federal or state agency is required. This documentation can include but is not limited to an IRS tax and wage transcript, unemployment, child support, alimony, welfare payments, Social Security benefits, SSI, or at least one benefit from any of the following federal programs: SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, WIC, housing assistance, etc., must be submitted in order to determine state grant eligibility. Verification of non-filing status may also be requested.

A dependent student whose parents are non-filers, receiving no social services and whose income or support cannot be verified through documents as defined above, is not eligible to receive state aid.

An independent student who is a non-filer, receiving no social services and whose income or support cannot be verified through documents as defined above, is not eligible to receive state aid.

If documentation is not received to verify income or resolve discrepancies, aid will not be granted.

Reminder: When the parent(s) lives outside of New Jersey and verification of parental income and assets cannot be completed because the parents do not file a U.S. Federal Income Tax return or have documented proof of taxable and/or untaxed income received through a U.S. federal or state agency, such as an IRS tax and wage transcript, unemployment, child support, alimony, welfare payments, Social Security benefits, or at least two benefits from any of the following federal programs: Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, TANF, WIC, etc., or receive documented state or federal aid refund , the student cannot be considered for State financial aid. Please note that this includes students whose parents filed a foreign tax return or whose parents were not required to file a foreign tax return and employees of the United Nations whose earnings are exempt from filing U.S. Federal Income Taxes.

Yes! If you are a student enrolled in a regular county college program pursing an Associate’s Degree you may receive up to 5 payments of state aid. If you are a student enrolled in a regular 4-year program pursing a Bachelors’ Degree, you may receive up to 9 payments of state aid (including payments received from the county college). You may be eligible for additional payments if you are a student enrolled in an Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program, took remedial or ESL classes, or other specialized programs. Your college’s financial aid office will determine if you qualify for additional payments.