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Lampitt, Diegnan, Wilson & Benson Bill to Ensure Continued Success of College Scholarship Programs Gets Final Legislative Approval

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Patrick Diegnan, Jr., Gilbert “Whip” Wilson and Dan Benson that would make changes to the successful NJ STARS and NJ STARS II scholarship programs to secure their sustainability was approved by the full Assembly on Thursday by a vote of 78-0.

NJ STARS is a scholarship program for New Jersey residents attending community college in New Jersey. NJ STARS II is a scholarship program for NJ STARS community college students who want to attend a public, four-year college or university in New Jersey.

“In a way, these scholarship programs have been victims of their own success in tough economic times,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “In light of the higher education cuts these past few years, we hope these adjustments will provide more predictability and stability to these successful programs. Ultimately, we hope to retain New Jersey’s best and brightest students who plan to pursue higher education in one of our state’s great colleges and universities. This is not only an investment in our students, but an investment in New Jersey’s future.”

“These scholarship programs have helped thousands of students in New Jersey, and we must ensure they continue to be viable for students who have excelled academically and want to attend New Jersey’s colleges and universities,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “With budgetary constraints, this is one way to preserve programs that helps keep talented local students and potential future employees in New Jersey. By making these changes, we are upholding our responsibility to our students and our taxpayers.”

“Thanks to these scholarship programs, we have been able to keep some of our most talented students in New Jersey,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “A college education is by no means cheap, and it’s only getting more expensive. Some students have the grades, but are unable to attend because they simply cannot afford the tuition. By readjusting these programs, we would help ensure the longevity of these scholarship programs, while staying within our means.”

“These programs have been a tremendous success and a monumental help for parents and students struggling with the ever increasing cost of college,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By making these minor changes, we can keep delivering this valuable program to New Jersey’s best and brightest even in these difficult economic times.”

The bill (A-1176) makes several revisions to both programs.

The major changes in the NJ STARS Program include:

  • limiting the scholarship to cover only the cost of tuition (rather than tuition and fees); and
  • ncouraging county colleges to host an annual recruitment day and invite representatives from each four-year public and private college or university in the state so these schools may recruit students for the NJ STARS II Program.

The major changes in the NJ STARTS II Program include:

  • allowing a student to use the NJ STARTS II scholarship to attend a private, four-year college or university in New Jersey (current law only allows these scholarships to be used to attend public colleges or universities in New Jersey );
  • eliminating the provision that calculated the amount of the scholarship based on the student’s grade point average (GPA); and
  • the cost of a NJ STARS II scholarship will be paid 100 percent by the state (instead of it being split evenly by the state and college or university, as mandated under current law)

The bill was also approved by the Senate today and now heads to the Governor’s desk.