Proof that NJ’s aid program for college students works | NJ Spotlight News (2023)

Proof that NJ’s aid program for college students works | NJ Spotlight News (1)Credit: (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

New Jersey’s Tuition Aid Grant program is significant in helping students graduate on time, particularly those at the lowest income levels and those attending the state’s four-year public colleges, according to a study that state officials plan to use as they consider possible changes to the decades-old program.

In a reportreleased earlier this month on the Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) program, the nonpartisan RAND Corporation found that $1,000 in additional aid over four years led to a 2.6 percentage point increase in the on-time graduation rate at New Jersey’s public universities. Additionally, TAG had a “positive” effect on the lowest-income recipients attending community colleges and private universities.

“The positive effects on bachelor’s degree completion show that delivering additional aid to lower-income college students, via the traditional state-federal methods of measuring financial need, can be a cost-effective way to support college attainment and reduce time to degree,” wrote the authors in their report, Cutting the College Price TAG.

Proof that NJ’s aid program for college students works | NJ Spotlight News (2)

RAND called TAG the most generous state-funded grant program per state resident college student in the nation. Roughly one-third of all full-time undergraduate New Jerseyans attending school in the state receive at least some aid through the program and some part-time students at county colleges are also eligible. The maximum TAG awards for full-time students this year ranged from $2,786 for those at county colleges to $12,938 for those attending independent colleges and proprietary degree-granting schools. A Rutgers University student could get as much as $9,848.

(Video) NJ Spotlight News: September 20, 2022

How Rutgers students benefit

A Rutgers spokesperson said the grant program provides some $100 million to more than 15,000 Rutgers students and is a vital financial resource in expanding access to higher education for students from low- and middle-income families.Without access to these critical funds, many students would be unable to attend college or complete their degree programs.

The report, conducted independently by Rand researchers, used data provided by the state Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) that oversees the TAG program. And it comes as a 10-member commission created by a law Gov. Phil Murphy signed in January 2020 is examining the grants and charged with identifying any barriers and deficiencies in the program and recommending ways to improve it. While that report is supposed to be completed within a year, the coronavirus pandemic delayed the commission from being fully populated and meeting until last summer, so its recommendations are not expected until July.

“One of the inputs being used are the independent studies being done on state-funded need-based financial aid,” said David Socolow, HESAA executive director, adding that the Washington-based Urban Institute is also working on a study.

He stressed that the purpose of the commission is not to save money by cutting the grants.

“We feel strongly about TAG’s role in making college affordable in New Jersey,” Socolow said. “What can we do to make it stronger and reach students in more effective ways? … If we had an extra boost in TAG, we would want to target where that would make the most difference.”

Murphy increased the amount of grants slightly in the budget adopted in 2019, and that since has remained steady at about $438 million for full-time TAG, with another $9.3 million for grants to county college and Equal Opportunity Fund students. About 68,000 students are expected to get an average of almost $6,500 in grants that do not have to be repaid this year.

(Video) Education in New Jersey I NJ Business Beat

TAG helps boost degree completion

Socolow said TAG is an important part of the state’s goal — as expressed in the higher education plan, released almost two years ago — to get 65% of New Jersey adults holding a post-secondary degree or trade credentials by 2025. Right now, 57% meet those criteria.

“Any investments the governor makes are going to be trying to further the aims of the higher education state plan, to get people post-secondary credentials that will matter for their lives, for their jobs,” he said. “TAG helps boost completion. EOF (The Educational Opportunity Fund) helps boost completion … Financial aid clearly makes such a big difference.”

Socolow said he was happy to see a rigorous independent study provide proof of the effectiveness of the TAG program. The RAND study is the first such analysis to compare the outcomes for TAG recipients with similar students who got less or no aid from the program.

“TAG is absolutely the foundation, it’s the building block all the rest of our college affordability strategies are built on,” he said. “Student success would be actually helping people graduate at higher rates by giving them financial aid, which on some level is what we all would have expected to see. We are gratified to see solid independent evidence of this.”

TAG is need-based, calculated primarily based on a student and family’s income and assets. While there is no official cutoff, Socolow said it is unlikely a student with a family income of more than $50,000 would receive much aid. The state has an online TAG estimator.

It doesn’t depend on Pell Grants

One of the major benefits to students is that the amount of TAG students receive does not depend on any federal Pell Grants — the maximum was $6,345 this year — they might also get. That means some students may receive more in aid than their total tuition.

(Video) NJ Spotlight News: September 21, 2022

“The additional resources could help students to offset college expenses and to stay enrolled and work toward earning degrees,” RAND reported.

Socolow said students who can afford to pay for college, books and transportation may not have to work much, if at all, which allows them to focus on their studies and graduate sooner.

“It helps the students but it also helps the broader society,” he continued, because they get into the working world sooner and become productive. It also helps the economy because as they earn a salary, they also make purchases and pay taxes.

TAG also helps the state to provide residents without a degree and with a household income of less than $65,000 with free community college tuition. The Community College Opportunity Grants cover the difference between whatever financial aid a student receives, including TAG and Pell Grants, and the total cost of tuition.

The RAND study found positive results for providing TAG to the lowest-income community college students, although the most effective use of the grants in terms of getting students to graduate on time was giving them to needy students attending four-year public colleges and universities.

How TAG students compare

HESAA has posted data that shows how TAG recipients fare in graduating compared with all students. The results differ from school to school, but the results are comparable in most cases and in a few, the graduation or transfer rate for TAG students was significantly higher. At Kean University, for instance, where more than three in 10 students got an average $5,166 in TAG this year, the most recent graduation data shows that 65% of TAG students either graduated or transferred within six years, compared with 48% of the general student population.

(Video) NJ Spotlight News: September 23, 2022

“The TAG grant does allow students at Kean University to be able to stay enrolled and graduate,” said Margaret McCorry, a university spokeswoman. “The grant is a resource that provides affordability. The TAG grant, along with other federal aid and Kean University scholarships, in many circumstances allows students to finance their tuition with little to no student loan debt.”

Some of the RAND report’s findings may give members of the state TAG study commission fodder for discussion. For instance, the researchers found that TAG did not increase graduation rates for moderate-income students at private schools, perhaps because it offset other aid or because it was a disincentive to leave a school that was not a good fit for them. There was also no conclusive evidence that TAG increased initial enrollment in colleges.

“The mix of results suggests that TAG aid, as currently delivered, might not be sufficient to overcome barriers of college affordability for many of its recipients,” the report states.

The report’s authors offered three main takeaways for those considering changes to the grants:

  • TAG can play an important role in the state’s goal of getting 65% of adults degreed, with increased funding for TAG supporting faster degree completion;
  • In the private college sector, giving more of the lowest-income students the maximum award likely would have a significantly greater impact on four-year graduation rates than giving smaller awards to more moderate-income students;
  • Since TAG was not proven effective at increasing college applications, communicating awards earlier to potential students might help boost enrollment.

“TAGis clearly helpful for many students, but the financial challenges of college still lead to dropout for other students,” the report’s authors wrote. “The study suggests that increased funding forTAGcould accelerate progress by supporting faster degree completion. As leaders continue to develop programs and policies to make college more affordable, they should focus resources where aid is likely to have the largest impact. This includes supporting students at public colleges and universities broadly and potentially shifting more resources to the lowest-income students at community colleges and private colleges and universities.”

FAQs

How can I get free tuition in NJ? ›

Completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application prior to September 15, 2021. Make satisfactory academic progress. Have a total household adjusted gross income between $0 - $65,000.

Is Njfams only for NJ schools? ›

NJFAMS is a user-friendly, real-time system that is available for all New Jersey students who apply for NJ State aid for each academic year.

Who qualifies for free college in NJ? ›

To be eligible for the Community College Opportunity Grant, students must: Be a New Jersey resident with an AGI between $0 - $80,000. Complete the FAFSA or NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application by applicable state deadlines. Enroll in at least six (6) credits per semester at one of New Jersey's community colleges.

How do I get a tuition aid grant in NJ? ›

To apply for New Jersey's Tuition Aid Grant program, students must complete the FAFSA by the New Jersey deadline of June 1 by midnight Central Time of the year that the student plans to enroll. If the student continues to qualify for this award, it is renewable each year.

Can I go to college for free? ›

Many schools offer free or reduced tuition for employees and staff of the school. In addition, if a student's parent works for a college, a full or partial waiver may be available for that student.

Can senior citizens go to college for free in NJ? ›

The Senior Citizen Audit Program allows retired New Jersey residents over 62 to attend classes on a space-available, non-credit basis with no tuition cost. Courses are available on all three regional campuses.

Who qualifies for NJ Stars program? ›

Student Eligibility

New Jersey residents, who rank in the top 15.0% of their class at the end of either junior or senior year of high school are potentially eligible for the NJ STARS Program. Students must also complete a rigorous high school course of study.

How does the NJ Stars program work? ›

The NJ STARS award covers the cost of tuition, less any State and/or federal grants and scholarships, for up to 18 credit hours per semester. Students may be eligible to receive an NJ STARS award for up to 5 semesters of continuous full-time enrollment in a degree program.

Who qualifies for HESAA? ›

Be a U.S. Citizen or eligible non-citizen. Be a New Jersey resident attending an approved school (in or out-of-state) or an out-of-state resident enrolled in an approved NJ-based school. Be enrolled in a degree or certificate program.

What is scarlet Promise Grant? ›

Scarlet Promise Grants are need-based financial aid awards that close the gap between aid from federal and state sources and what Rutgers families can afford. These grants provide support for tuition and other expenses inherent in a college education, such as books, meal plans, and housing.

What is the Garden State guarantee? ›

The Garden State Guarantee is a financial aid program that will provide up to four semesters of free or reduced tuition and required fees at a four-year, public institution of higher education in New Jersey.

Are community colleges free? ›

Some community colleges in the United States offer free tuition, but the vast majority are not free. As of 2022, 20 states provide tuition-free community college, meaning that if you are a resident of that state and meet certain requirements, you can attend classes free of charge.

Does NJ give financial aid? ›

The New Jersey Financial Aid Management System (NJFAMS) is now available for all New Jersey students who apply for NJ State aid for the 2022-2023 academic year. Each student will need to log in and set up an NJFAMS account.

What is an NJ dreamer? ›

Previously, in order to be eligible for federal or state financial aid, students needed to be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen. As of May 9, 2018, New Jersey passed a law that allows undocumented students enrolled in eligible New Jersey colleges to apply for New Jersey financial aid.

What scholarships are available in NJ? ›

New Jersey Scholarships
Scholarship Title keyboard_arrow_downAmount keyboard_arrow_down
NJCPA One Year Scholarship$6,500
Ford Built Tough - $1,000 Scholarship$1,000
UNCF PNC Foundation Scholarship$2,500
Judy Corman Memorial Scholarship and Internship from Scholastic$10,000
82 more rows

What college is completely free? ›

At Kentucky's Berea College, no student pays tuition. The Tuition Promise Scholarship pays off any remaining tuition costs for all admitted students after the use of state, federal and institutional aid.

How can I pay for college with no money? ›

How to pay for college with no money
  1. Identify schools that are or almost tuition-free.
  2. Apply for federal and state grants.
  3. Seek out merit-based scholarships.
  4. Ask for help.
  5. Trim your academic expenses.
  6. Consider federal and private loans.
24 Aug 2022

How can I get paid to go to college? ›

Here Are The 11 Best Ways To Get Paid To Go To School
  1. Corporate Tuition Reimbursement From Your Employer. ...
  2. College Financial Assistance; Grants And Scholarships. ...
  3. Community College Education. ...
  4. Merit And Minority Grants And Scholarships. ...
  5. College Tuition Tax Breaks. ...
  6. Online Colleges. ...
  7. Join The Military. ...
  8. No-Loan Colleges.
16 Mar 2021

What is the oldest age you can go to college? ›

The age of 25 is not too late to start college, as it is never too late to start college. Many of the most successful college students are older learners and working professionals. Oftentimes, these older college students bring several advantages to the classroom.

Can a 70 year old go to college? ›

California. The California State University system knows how to take care of state residents age 60 and over. Tuition is waived for all state-supported colleges. But wait, there's more: California state colleges also waive application fees, as well as any activity fees associated with your classes, for older students.

What is the cheapest college in New Jersey? ›

Cheapest Colleges in New Jersey by In State Tuition
CollegeIn State TuitionValue
#1 Thomas Edison State College Trenton, Public Not For Profit$7,182NA
#2 Bais Medrash Toras Chesed Lakewood, Private Not For Profit$7,200NA
#3 Rowan University Glassboro, Public Not For Profit$9,57342
17 more rows

How much money does NJ stars give? ›

*OCC's tuition charges now include books and most fees which are not covered by the STARS scholarship, the STARS scholarship is being awarded at $137.27 per credit for the 2020-2021 year.

What is the NJ Stars 2 program? ›

New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (STARS) II. The NJ STARS II Program is a continuation of the NJ STARS Program that provides successful NJ STARS students at New Jersey county college with funding to transfer to a New Jersey four-year college/university to earn a bachelor's degree.

Does Rutgers offer merit scholarships? ›

Rutgers University offers a range of merit-based scholarships and need-based programs to help qualifying students fund their education.

How many credits is considered full time Bergen Community college? ›

Students must be full-time (12 or more credits) unless it is their final semester and less than 12 credits are needed to graduate. Students must also maintain continuous enrollment unless they request and receive an approved leave of absence.

Do I have to pay back HESAA? ›

Standard Repayment

With the standard plan, borrowers pay a fixed amount each month until loans are paid in full. Monthly payments will be at least $50, and borrowers have up to 10 years to repay.

Will HESAA loans be forgiven? ›

HESAA Student Loan Discharges

Similar to the federal system, if you become totally and permanently disabled, HESAA will forgive the loan. There is a form you need to fill out, and you must provide medical proof of a disability, but it can be done.

Is HESAA real? ›

HESAA, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, is the only New Jersey state agency with the sole mission of providing students and families with financial and informational resources for students to pursue their education beyond high school.

What is NJ tag? ›

September 2021. New Jersey's Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) provides funds to help low-income residents cover tuition at the state's public and private nonprofit colleges and universities, as well as a few for-profit institutions.

Does Rutgers give a lot of financial aid? ›

What Percentage of Undergrads Get Financial Assistance? Rutgers University - New Brunswick's typical financial aid deal for incoming first years is $22,977. Around 51.0% of freshman students receive some financial aid, most of which is scholarships and grants.

How much financial aid does Rutgers give? ›

The average need-based scholarship or grant awarded to first-year students at Rutgers University--New Brunswick was $13,716. Additionally, 50% of first-year students received need-based financial aid in fall 2020. Need-based self-help aid includes federal loans and work-study.

Does Garden State guarantee cover housing? ›

IMPORTANT: GSG does NOT cover room & board (housing & meal plan) charges. For those that qualify for the Sliding Scale: You will be charged no more than $7,500 per semester for tuition and fees. Any federal, state, institutional or private grants and scholarships will be used to cover this amount.

What is Stockton promise? ›

The Stockton Promise is a last dollar program that furthers Stockton University's ongoing commitment to helping students achieve their academic goals while reducing their need for student loans.

Is Montclair State University Expensive? ›

Montclair State University's tuition is $13,760 for in-state and $22,470 for out-of-state students. Compared with the national average cost of in-state tuition of $11,286, Montclair State University is more expensive.

Which state has the best community colleges? ›

  • WalletHub recently found which states have the best and worst community college systems. ( iStock / iStock)
  • Connecticut was found to have the best community college system in the U.S., according to WalletHub. ...
  • Ohio was found to have the worst community college system in the U.S., according to WalletHub.
19 Aug 2022

What is the biggest community college in the US? ›

1. Miami Dade College: Miami, FL. Best Program: Education isn't just the biggest department at Miami Dade College.

What state has the most community colleges? ›

The five states with the largest number of community colleges in the directory are California (185), Texas (126), Ohio (86), Florida (82) and Pennsylvania (81). The top 10 states with the largest number of community colleges had an aggregate of 879 schools, accounting for 52.2% of the total.

Does NJ offer financial aid for college? ›

Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) awards the Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) for students attending New Jersey colleges and universities. In order to fill out the HESAA, students must complete the FAFSA first.

Is Pell Grant first come first serve? ›

Receiving a Pell Grant is not a one-time deal. Students from families that demonstrate financial need on the FAFSA each school year can take out a Pell Grant each semester. Furthermore, funds are not first-come, first-serve.

Is scholarships a legitimate website? ›

Q: Is scholarships com legit? A: Yes, Scholarships.com is a legit organization.

How do you become a NJ dreamer? ›

New Jersey Dreamers
  1. Attended a New Jersey high school for at least three (3) years; and.
  2. Graduated from a New Jersey high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey; and.
  3. Registered for Selective Service (male students only)

Can undocumented immigrants go to college in New Jersey? ›

The New Jersey Tuition Equality Act (Statute P.L. 2013, c. 170), otherwise known as the DREAM Act, became law in 2013 and allows undocumented students who meet certain criteria to qualify for in-state tuition rates at all of New Jersey's public higher education institutions.

Can undocumented students go to college in New Jersey? ›

New Jersey provides eligible undocumented residents, including DACA recipients, with access to in-state tuition, state financial aid, professional and occupational licenses, and driver licenses and state identification. New Jersey Senate Bill (S.)

What colleges give the most scholarship money? ›

The 50 colleges that offer the most student aid
RankCollegeStudents receiving need-based aid
1Columbia University2,973
2Yale University2,732
3Williams College1,014
4Amherst College1,066
46 more rows
29 Oct 2018

How do I apply for free college in NJ? ›

Completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application prior to September 15, 2021. Make satisfactory academic progress. Have a total household adjusted gross income between $0 - $65,000.

When Should college students apply for scholarships? ›

Some deadlines are as early as a year before college starts, so if you're in high school now, you should be researching and applying for scholarships during the summer between your junior and senior years. But if you've missed that window, don't give up!

How do you qualify for NJ Stars? ›

Students must attain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher by the start of the second year of county college enrollment to meet the academic requirement for NJ STARS renewal. NJ STARS students must graduate with a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher to qualify academically for the NJ STARS II program.

How does the NJ Stars program work? ›

The NJ STARS award covers the cost of tuition, less any State and/or Federal grants and scholarships, for up to five semesters. The award covers these charges for up to 18 credit hours per semester. Funding for NJ STARS awards is dependent upon annual State appropriations.

Can you get a full ride to Rutgers? ›

Each year, two full-tuition scholarships are awarded to incoming students who have demonstrated academic merit and financial need, though not necessarily by federal guidelines. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years.

Are community colleges free? ›

Some community colleges in the United States offer free tuition, but the vast majority are not free. As of 2022, 20 states provide tuition-free community college, meaning that if you are a resident of that state and meet certain requirements, you can attend classes free of charge.

How much money does NJ stars give? ›

*OCC's tuition charges now include books and most fees which are not covered by the STARS scholarship, the STARS scholarship is being awarded at $137.27 per credit for the 2020-2021 year.

What is the NJ Stars 2 program? ›

New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (STARS) II. The NJ STARS II Program is a continuation of the NJ STARS Program that provides successful NJ STARS students at New Jersey county college with funding to transfer to a New Jersey four-year college/university to earn a bachelor's degree.

What is NJ tag Grant? ›

New Jersey's Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) provides funds to help low-income residents cover tuition at the state's public and private nonprofit colleges and universities, as well as a few for-profit institutions.

How many credits does NJ stars cover? ›

NJ STARS Benefits

The NJ STARS award covers the cost of tuition, less any State and/or Federal grants and scholarships, for up to five semesters. The award covers these charges for up to 18 credits per semester.

What is Garden State guarantee? ›

What is the Garden State Guarantee? The Garden State Guarantee is a financial aid program that will provide up to four semesters of free or reduced tuition and required fees at a four-year, public institution of higher education in New Jersey.

How many credits is considered full time Bergen Community college? ›

Students must be full-time (12 or more credits) unless it is their final semester and less than 12 credits are needed to graduate. Students must also maintain continuous enrollment unless they request and receive an approved leave of absence.

Is Rutgers a hard school? ›

Rutgers University is harder to get into than open admissions schools and easier to get into than highly selective schools. With a 61% acceptance rate, one's chances of getting accepted are more than 50/50. At RU, there is no minimum GPA students need to meet for their applications to be considered.

Can I ask for more merit scholarship? ›

Question: Can I ask a college for more merit aid? Answer: Yes, you can absolutely ask a college for more merit aid. In fact, many of your peers will do so.

Does Rutgers send money to students? ›

Rutgers supports transfers students through various financial aid opportunities, such as scholarships, grants, and the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program.

What is the #1 community college in the US? ›

Montgomery Community College

Where is college free in the world? ›

Key Takeaways. The high cost of a U.S. college education has many prospective students looking at other countries that offer free college or low-cost programs, including Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, and Denmark.

Which state has the best community colleges? ›

  • WalletHub recently found which states have the best and worst community college systems. ( iStock / iStock)
  • Connecticut was found to have the best community college system in the U.S., according to WalletHub. ...
  • Ohio was found to have the worst community college system in the U.S., according to WalletHub.
19 Aug 2022

Videos

1. NJ Spotlight News: September 19, 2022
(NJ Spotlight News)
2. Solving NJ's student loan debt crisis | NJ Business Beat
(NJ Spotlight News)
3. NJ Spotlight News: September 15, 2022
(NJ Spotlight News)
4. NJ Spotlight News: September 27, 2022
(NJ Spotlight News)
5. Former Gov. Tom Kean on Gov. Jim Florio's legacy, NJ's top headlines | Reporters Roundtable
(NJ Spotlight News)
6. Grant program to aid NJ's for-profit performance venues
(NJ Spotlight News)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Reed Wilderman

Last Updated: 09/21/2022

Views: 5771

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Reed Wilderman

Birthday: 1992-06-14

Address: 998 Estell Village, Lake Oscarberg, SD 48713-6877

Phone: +21813267449721

Job: Technology Engineer

Hobby: Swimming, Do it yourself, Beekeeping, Lapidary, Cosplaying, Hiking, Graffiti

Introduction: My name is Reed Wilderman, I am a faithful, bright, lucky, adventurous, lively, rich, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.