Last Week to Apply for Tuition-Free Community College

On the heels of a new school year, thousands of New Jersey students are setting off to their first college classes. But for many others, college is simply not an option.

One of the biggest barriers to higher education is its growing cost. The sticker price for a college degree is higher than ever before, and as a result, student loan debt is also at an all time high. Despite New Jersey being one of the wealthiest states in the nation, four in ten residents fall below the ALICE income threshold and are considered “working poor.” For students in these families, the ever-increasing cost of higher education can have a chilling effect on college aspirations, with many choosing instead to work out of high school and save.

Fortunately, New Jersey has taken major steps to ensure all students — regardless of their family’s income or immigration status — have a fair shot at going to college. For students undecided on whether to apply, it’s important to know all of the financial assistance options made available by the state.

Since 2018, New Jersey has invested in making community college tuition-free for students who need the assistance the most. First launched as a pilot in 2018, the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) is now available to students enrolled in all of New Jersey’s eighteen community colleges. The program administers a “last-dollar” grant that closes the gap between tuition costs (including fees) and all other federal and state assistance. Since its inception, 5,424 county college students have received CCOG grants totaling $6.015 million. Of these 5,424 students, 251 are New Jersey DREAMers.

The deadline to apply for New Jersey’s CCOG program is Sunday, September 15, 2019

There are two ways to apply: 

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)to be automatically considered for CCOG tuition assistance.
  2. For students who are undocumented, complete the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application to be considered for state aid and the CCOG.

What are the requirements?

The CCOG is available to students enrolled at any of New Jersey’s eighteen community colleges. Students must be enrolled in at least six credits for the fall and/or spring semesters and have an adjusted gross income below $65,000. More information about the CCOG is available on the New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority website.