New Jersey’s 19 community colleges can apply to be part of a pilot program allowing students who earn less than $45,000 and take six or more credits to attend classes without paying tuition or fees.
Not every community college can offer free tuition because only $20 million for the program was included in the state budget.
Higher Education Secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis says several factors will be considered when selecting the colleges for the pilot program.
“Their capacity to actually enroll and recruit new students. The quality of their plans for supporting students who actually complete their credentials. We’ll be looking at how much the plans will cost at all of the different colleges and also their plans for keeping costs down in the future as we think thing about how to build this program out to more colleges.”
David Socolow, the executive director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority,
says the initial phase of the tuition-fee initiative will help thousands of students.
“At the colleges that are selected, every student who enrolls in the spring of 2019 whose adjusted gross income is between zero and $45,000 and takes at least six credits will have no cost for tuition and fees that semester.”
Ellis says using taxpayer money for the free tuition program makes sense.
“When people have higher levels of education they’re less likely to use public benefits in any form. They will more likely get a higher income, which means they’ll pay more in taxes.”
Colleges have until August 31st to apply for participation in the pilot program. A decision on which ones will be chosen will be made by the end of September.