Higher education is a pathway to an abundance of opportunity. If there’s a subject you’re passionate about, a college education can be a powerful means of obtaining the training you need to create a thriving career. If you’re already a working adult but want more out of your job, returning to school helps employees throughout the nation take the next step on the corporate ladder. Regardless of your reason for pursuing higher education, we all walk in with one goal: improving ourselves. But for so many living in New Jersey and beyond, barriers such as finance and opportunity can hinder meeting those educational goals. To help make our state more equitable for all learners, Governor Murphy has announced several affordability and accessibility initiatives to help make a college education more attainable in Garden State.

These announcements come from the July 26th Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, where the board unanimously approved financial aid program parameters for the academic year 2023-24, expanding the New Jersey College Promise and Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) programs. By approving this motion, the HESAA is equipped to support more students than ever before and implement several new initiatives to address workforce shortages.

New Jersey’s College Promise programs, the Community College Opportunity Grant, and the Garden State Guarantee will now cover students from families with annual adjusted gross incomes up to $100,000, which has increased from last year’s cap of $80,000. HESAA estimates that more than 35,000 students will benefit from College Promise programs starting in fall 2023. The newly eligible applicants include approximately 4,500 students expected to benefit from the increased eligibility threshold, many of whom were not previously eligible for any financial aid. The Board authorized these policies to implement HESAA’s funding through the Fiscal Year 2024 budget that Governor Murphy signed into law last month.

The HESAA board also set the dollar amounts of Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) awards for the academic year 2023-24, allowing for a 6% increase in the value of the TAG awards to students with the most financial need. This motion also offers additional Summer TAG awards to students to accelerate obtaining their degree by taking advantage of classes during summer terms in April-August 2024. In tandem, these policies will help students reduce the time they need to complete a degree, making obtaining a degree a reality for thousands of New Jerseyans. HESAA efforts include a newly introduced $10 million program to encourage undergraduate students to pursue careers as educators by offering $3,000 stipends during their student-teaching experience.

Per Governor Murphy, “All New Jersey students – no matter their age or life circumstances – should have the opportunity to access a high-quality postsecondary education. My Administration remains committed to providing affordable pathways to a debt-free college degree/ Our investment in the New Jersey College Promise initiative, Tuition Aid Grants and other financial aid programs will pay dividends in the years ahead, building on our progress to put higher education within reach for residents across our state.”

These advancements are a welcome relief to many New Jerseyans, especially in communities like Trenton, where higher education may not be as readily accessible. By allowing more voices a seat at the table, we are empowering a new generation of skilled, thoughtful professionals who will no doubt continue to innovate the Garden State. If you’d like to read more about HESAA and take advantage of available assistance, please visit their website here for further details: HESAA – Home.

It’s a great day to be a student in New Jersey, and we’re confident that scholars throughout the Capital City and beyond will stand to benefit from these incredible strides.

About Author