New Jersey takes 1st step toward free community college

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AJ Ross has the latest on New Jersey's steps toward free community college

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced a program that will allow about 13,000 students to be able to attend one of 13 community colleges for free, beginning this spring semester.

WABC-TV reports, all 19 community colleges in New Jersey applied to be a part of the Community College Innovation Challenge, and each will receive a $250,000 grant for student outreach, recruitment, and to build up to future expansion.

"Making community college tuition free will help New Jersey's young people and working adults earn post-secondary degrees to advance their careers, and it will help build the talented workforce that is the engine of our state's economy," Murphy said.

The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority then chose the following 13 community colleges where eligible students will attend for free:

--Atlantic Cape Community College
--Bergen Community College
--Camden County College
--Cumberland County College
--Hudson County Community College

--Mercer County Community College
--Middlesex County College
--Ocean County College
--Passaic County Community College
--Rowan College at Gloucester County
--Salem Community College
--Union County College

--Warren County Community College
Students enrolled at least half time at these 13 pilot schools will be able to receive "last-dollar" Community College Opportunity Grants, covering any remaining costs of tuition and approved educational fees after applying all other financial aid grant awards to the student's account.

The pilot program will allow students coming from families with incomes between $0 to $45,000 access to the awards. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress in order to remain qualified.

Current students who have already completed a financial aid application for the fall 2018 semester will be automatically considered for eligibility if they enroll at one of the 13 pilot institutions for at least six credits in the spring 2019 semester.

Students at one of these pilot community colleges who have not yet filed for financial aid for academic year 2018-2019 will have until February 15, 2019 to apply for awards by completing the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid and the supplemental New Jersey state questions, or by completing the Alternative Application for New Jersey Dreamers.
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