Now New Jersey college students from households with incomes of less than $65,000 a year have become eligible for up to four years of free tuition. It comes under a college affordability package signed into law on June 29 as part of the state’s 2022 budget.
The free tuition has been established from an expansion of the Garden State Guarantee, which originally provided for only the first two years of eligible students’ education at New Jersey public universities.
“The Garden State Guarantee is our commitment to ensuring New Jerseyans are well-positioned for success, particularly students of color, low-income families, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have traditionally not been afforded equal access to higher education,” said Dr. Brian Bridges, Secretary of Higher Education.
According to dailytargum.com, students in their third and fourth years of college with household incomes lower than $65,000 may now receive two years of additional free tuition under the initiative.
As reported by patch.com, additionally, taxpayers with incomes below $75,000 who make a New Jersey Better Educational Savings Trust (NJBEST) account are now eligible for a grant of up to $750 in matching payments from the initial deposit.
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Taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or less may also receive deductions for up to $10,000 in NJBEST contributions, according to the article. And, they are eligible for up to $10,000 in deductions for in-state tuition payments and $2,500 in deductions for principal and interest payments under the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) program.
“These incentives will hopefully encourage more families to start a college fund for their children, giving them more freedom in deciding where they want to pursue a college degree,” said Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-N.J.).
While many universities previously froze tuition due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, some such as Rutgers have raised it for the 2021-2022 academic year. A typical in-state undergraduate at Rutgers, New Brunswick will now pay $15,804 in tuition and fees as opposed to $15,407 last school year.
Help with the cost of tuition
“We support the College Affordability Act and other important measures to make college more affordable in New Jersey,” said University spokesperson Dory Devlin. “Providing income tax deductions for college tuition is an important step in helping New Jersey families offset the cost of tuition in New Jersey.”
The funding for the tuition program is among several new initiatives in the proposed state budget aimed at helping college students and their families.
An affordability package
“The governor and Legislature assembled a comprehensive college affordability package that helps those saving for college, current students and those who are paying loans,” said Elizabeth Maher Muoio, the state treasurer.
State officials have been talking for years about ways to help students better afford college degrees in a state with some of the highest tuition costs in the nation.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who is running for reelection this year, has been advocating for free college programs since his first campaign.
Earlier this year, Murphy signed a law making that program, now known as the Community College Opportunity Grant Program, permanent for students earning less than $65,000.