Seeking to codify into State law a pilot program that helped an estimated 18,000 community college students pay for tuition last year, the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Thursday advanced legislation to formally establish the Community College Opportunity Grant Program.
The current pilot program was started in the 2018-2019 school year to provide financial aid grants to eligible students to cover the cost of tuition and educational fees not covered by State, federal or institutional need-based grants or merit scholarships. The grants may cover up to 18 credits in any semester for a full-time student. The program is now available at every community college in New Jersey.
This bill (A-4410), sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington), Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris) and Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) would mandate the program under State law to ensure its future sustainability.
The sponsors released the following joint statement:
“The rising costs of college tuition, books and fees are often out of reach for many college students and their families. A college degree has become the standard for entry into many industries and workplaces, but too many students must take on enormous debt in pursuit of higher education and a successful career.
“The Community College Opportunity Grant closes the gap for middle class and low-income students, helping to balance costs not covered by State and federal aid. It makes college more affordable and accessible for students who may not otherwise be able to further their education.
“We’ve already seen this program’s outstanding potential to open doors for students across New Jersey. Our next step is to enshrine it into State law so it may benefit future generations.”