Murphy Launches Year Two of Community College Opportunity Grant Program

Governor Also Encourage Students to Complete FAFSA for Academic Year 2019-2020; Students with Adjusted Gross Incomes of $65,000 Per Year or Less May Qualify to Attend Any of New Jersey’s 18 County Colleges Tuition-Free

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Governor Phil Murphy

MORRIS COUNTY — Governor Phil Murphy visited Middlesex County College, alongside Speaker Craig Coughlin, Executive Director David Socolow of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), and Deputy Secretary Diana Gonzalez of the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE), to encourage students to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application for New Jersey DREAMers by September 15 in order to be eligible for a Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG).

To receive free tuition through CCOG starting in the fall 2019 semester, all students planning to attend a New Jersey county college must meet the September 15 deadline to complete either FAFSA or the Alternative Application for New Jersey DREAMers and respond to all financial aid questions from HESAA or the college they are attending. Students with adjusted gross incomes between $0 and $65,000 may qualify to attend any of New Jersey’s 18 county colleges tuition-free during the upcoming academic year. Qualifying county college students who enroll in at least six credits per semester during the fall of 2019 and/or the spring of 2020 will be eligible for Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) awards funded by the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Act signed by Governor Murphy.

CCOG scholarships will fill in remaining gaps to cover tuition and approved educational fees after accounting for all other grant and scholarship aid for which the students are eligible. Students who have already completed a financial aid application for academic year 2019-2020 will be considered automatically for CCOG eligibility.

Everyone deserves an opportunity to pursue his or her dreams whether you are a recent high school graduate or an older student changing your career, said Murphy. Our community colleges play a critical role in helping our students build the skill sets they need to meet the demands of a growing and diverse 21st-century economy. CCOG grants provides a pathway to success for both our students and our state as a whole.

“Touring Middlesex County college today was a great opportunity to highlight the efforts of our 2-year college institutions throughout the state,” said Speaker Coughlin. “New Jersey has some of the premier institutions of higher education in the country. We are preparing future generations to compete in an ever evolving workforce and achieve their career goals. Helping families and students decrease the potential for student debt after college is a priority.  Encouraging everyone to fill out a FAFSA Application is essential to keeping college costs down for New Jersey residents.”

Every New Jerseyan, regardless of life circumstances, should have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality credential that prepares them for life after college. Expanding the Community College Opportunity Grant brings our state one step closer to achieving this vision by enabling us to serve more of New Jersey’s community college students, said Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis.

During my spring graduation tour of New Jersey’s colleges, I heard over and over from students for whom free tuition made it possible for them to afford college. I’m excited we are able to continue and expand this fantastic opportunity.

We are delighted to expand this vital program that will help more county college students succeed,said David Socolow, Executive Director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. Because CCOG is designed as a last-dollar scholarship, participating students must first apply for all other federal, state, and institutional financial aid grants. As we approach the crucial September 15 application deadline, HESAA is working with county colleges across the state to reach students and help them complete the financial aid forms they need to qualify for free tuition and approved educational fees.

Over 300 Middlesex County College students participated in the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program in the spring 2019 semester, including many who would not have been able to attend if not for CCOG, said Mark McCormick, President of Middlesex County College. “I believe that CCOG is an investment in our students as they earn an associate degree or industry credential that leads to a career with family-supporting wages.”

For detailed information on program parameters and eligibility criteria click here.