Salem Community College (SCC) and New Jersey’s other 17 community colleges thank Governor Murphy for his vision and leadership in making a community college education tuition-free for so many New Jersey residents. On February 26, New Jersey became just one of 16 states with College-Promise programs making college free to its residents. By signing this law, the Governor ensures that current and future students know that this program will be there for them now and into the future.
The Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program provides a last-dollar scholarship to attend a community college for individuals in households earning $65,000 adjusted gross income or less. The program was first established in the state’s FY 2019 budget and assisted more than 18,000 students last year, including recent high school graduates and working adults. These students enrolled in a community college and embarked on a pathway toward earning college degrees and credentials. This program expands economic opportunity while helping New Jersey build a productive and innovative workforce that enables economic growth and recovery.
SCC Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) student Colin Durham of Pennsville benefits from the CCOG program. “The Community College Opportunity Grant has given me the chance to pursue my education and progress my goals to start my career as a nurse,” said the 2017 graduate of Pennsville Memorial High School. “I graduated from SCC's Practical Nursing program last year, and I am currently enrolled in Salem's ADN program to become a Registered Nurse. CCOG has provided me with the necessary funds for me to focus on what matters most: my education.”
“As a result of this investment,” said Aaron Fichtner, President of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, “thousands of New Jerseyans are able to embark on career pathways, to prepare for jobs that pay family-supporting wages, and to contribute directly to the state's economic growth and recovery.”
SCC President Michael Gorman praised the backing of New Jersey’s elected officials, particularly those in the Third Legislative District. “The support of Senate President Steve Sweeney and the Third District Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro was instrumental in achieving this historic legislation,” said Dr. Gorman. “Salem Community College is grateful for our Third District team’s unwavering support of the Community College Opportunity Grant program.”
New Jersey’s 18 community colleges, as the only educational institutions with statewide reach, provide essential opportunities to more than 300,000 New Jersey residents each year. Over 200,000 students – more than half of all undergraduate students in all public colleges and universities in the state – are enrolled in credit and degree programs at New Jersey’s community colleges. Equity and access priorities are advanced everyday with 50% of all students enrolled in New Jersey’s community colleges being non-white.
The Community College Opportunity Grant program is an important investment in students and in the state’s economic future. This tuition financial aid program supports the most vulnerable residents for whom a college education is unaffordable. This law puts the Community College Opportunity Grant program on par with other highly respected, need- and merit-based college support programs such as TAG (Tuition Aid Grants) and NJ STARS (New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship). As New Jersey residents face the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community College Opportunity Grant serves as a pathway to attain the education needed to move forward and succeed.
For more information about the Community College Opportunity Grant, visit http://salemcc.edu/ccog
Salem Community College thanks the New Jersey Council of County Colleges for providing much of the content of this news release.