New Jersey residents who anticipate attending a college or university have a variety of financial aid options available. This includes both need-based state grants and loans, as well as numerous scholarships designed specifically for those who plan on seeking post-secondary education in the Garden State.
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New Jersey is home to more than 40 colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Rowan, Princeton, and numerous community colleges. Unfortunately, New Jersey is also home to a significant amount of student debt, as 61% of residents carry an average loan debt of $32,247.
One way to avoid a substantial amount of debt is to diligently review the financial aid options available. If you’re a New Jersey resident, the following loans, scholarships, and grants may help you finance your academic dreams without breaking the bank.
On this page:
- Getting Financing for College
- State-Based New Jersey Student Loans
- New Jersey Scholarships for College
- New Jersey Grants for College
Getting Financing for College
Finding the right financing takes some work, and if you’re planning on going to college or you’re already enrolled in a degree program, these steps can help you build a solid foundation for your financial aid search:
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will determine your eligibility for federal assistance, including loans and grants. Additionally, this form is often required when applying for other grants and scholarships.
- Estimate the total cost of your education by adding together your expected tuition as well as fees, books, and room and board, if necessary. This number should be subtracted from your total available funds to determine the total amount of financial aid you’ll need to secure for your college education.
- Once you determine your need, it’s time to review all available grants and scholarships as well as loans. Because scholarships and grants don’t need to be repaid, it’s helpful to identify these first before turning to federal or private student loans.
- Apply for financial aid, being sure to pay attention to all deadlines and documentation submission requirements. Failure to do so may mean you’ll miss out on much-needed assistance.
State-Based New Jersey Student Loans
Student loans often play an important role in education financing, and many students will need to consider federal, private, and state-based loans. Fortunately, New Jersey students have access to state loans as well as loans from both local and national financial institutions. Here are two you may want to consider.
Standard NJCLASS Loan
The Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, a state agency that provides students and families with financial and informational resources, offers NJCLASS family loans up to the cost of attendance, minus other financial aid. Such loans come with fixed interest rates between 4.69% and 6%, based on the repayment plan selected (10- or 15-year terms). Borrowers face no prepayment penalties but do pay a 3% administrative fee for each loan disbursement.
You must complete the FAFSA prior to applying for the NJCLASS loan and meet minimum credit and income requirements (or have a cosigner who does). To be eligible, you must be an NJ resident enrolled at least half-time at an approved school or an out-of-state resident enrolled at least half-time at an approved NJ school. Further, you must make satisfactory academic progress as defined by the school.
The NJCLASS loan has competitive rates compared to other student loan options and can be a more affordable option for some students. However, it’s important to factor in the 3% administrative fee applied at disbursement before determining affordability.
CuScholar Private Loan
Atlantic Federal Credit Union’s cuScholar Private Student Loans lets undergraduate borrowers take out loans beginning at $2,000, up to a maximum of $120,000. Fixed rates are available between 5.36% and 9.32%, while variable rates range from 5.08% to 10.2%; there are no origination fees associated with these loans.
To be eligible, you must be an Atlantic Federal Credit Union member (or become one at the time of application) who is enrolled at least half-time in an eligible school. Further, you must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and meet satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school.
The loan is actually issued by LendKey, a popular online lender with competitive rates and an easy application process. Borrowers can receive a .25% interest rate deduction for auto payments. Additionally, this loan features a cosigner release after 24 months of on-time payments, provided other criteria is met.
New Jersey Scholarships for College
Scholarships provide much-needed financial aid that does not need to be repaid, helping you keep your overall academic debt obligation low. There are numerous places to find scholarships, including online databases, your high school guidance department, and the financial aid office for your school. If you’re an NJ resident or attending an NJ school, you may be eligible for the following New Jersey scholarships:
NJ Stars Scholarship
- Scholarship amount: Varies based on the cost of tuition at one of NJ’s community colleges
- Eligibility requirements: You must be in the top 15% of your high school class (junior or senior year), complete rigorous classes as defined by the NJ Commission of Higher Education, and be enrolled at a community college with at least 12 credits per semester.
- Deadline to apply: September 15
- Scholarship amount: Up to $1,500 based on the applicant’s 529 College Savings Plan
- Eligibility requirements: You must be the beneficiary of an NJBEST 529 College Savings Plan with a lifetime contribution of at least $1,200. Further, either you or the contributor must be an NJ resident at the time of college attendance, and you must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible NJ school.
- Deadline to apply: December 1 (fall); May 1 (spring)
Meland Foundation Nursing Scholarship
- Scholarship amount: $2,000 to $5,000
- Eligibility requirements: Applicants who want to pursue a pediatric-focused Nurse Practitioner degree in NJ, New York, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania and already have a BSN will be considered. To apply, you must be able to complete a 500-word essay and provide a letter from the dean of your school that indicates satisfactory academic performance while completing your BSN.
- Deadline to apply: Rolling basis
New Jersey Police Relief Association Scholarship Assistance Program
- Scholarship amount: Varies
- Eligibility requirements: Members of the New Jersey Police Relief Associationare considered eligible to apply if they are the parent or guardian of a student enrolled in an accredited school. Students must pledge to complete the degree or certificate for which they are enrolled; further eligibility is based on scholastic merit and economic need as defined by the NJPRA president and committee members.
- Deadline to apply: March 1
AVMA/AVMF Scholarship for Veterans
- Scholarship amount: $1,000
- Eligibility requirements: To be considered for this scholarship, you must be a military veteran enrolled in your first, second, or third year of veterinary school at an AVMA-accredited school.
- Deadline to apply: TBD (visit AVFM.org in March for updated application information)
New Jersey Grants for College
Grants, like scholarships, provide financial aid that does not need to be repaid after graduation. However, while scholarship eligibility often depends on a variety of factors, like academic merit, artistic or athletic abilities, ethnic or cultural background, and professional intentions, grants are primarily awarded based on economic need. New Jersey residents may be eligible for the following grants.
New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant
- Grant amount: Total value of the award varies but can reach the full amount of attendance, minus any existing federal, state, or other grants and scholarships
- Eligibility requirements: All applicants must complete the FAFSA or the NJ Alternative Application, be enrolled in at least six credits for the spring 2019 semester at an eligible NJ college, and have an adjusted gross income of no more than $45,000.
- Deadline to apply: February 19
The CCOG program is a pilot program being offered for the first time in spring 2019. It’s only offered at 13 “pilot” county colleges throughout New Jersey, a full list of which is available on the NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority website. As such, eligibility may change for the 2019–2020 school year.
Educational Opportunity Fund Grants
- Grant amount: Varies based on need, fund availabilities, and campus
- Eligibility requirements: You must be an NJ resident for at least one year prior to receiving the award. You’re also required to demonstrate educational and economic disadvantage, complete the FAFSA, and meet the AGI requirements as defined by the state’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.
- Deadline to apply: Contact your school’s financial aid department
The Educational Opportunity Fund was designed to help students with educational and economic disadvantage secure financial aid and academic support. There are numerous NJ community colleges, colleges, and universities (public and private) that participate in this program. These grants are campus-based, and therefore, you should work with the financial aid department at your select school to determine availability and specific eligibility.
New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant
- Grant amount: Varies based on need and the selected college or university (full-time awards for 2018-2019 ranged from $2,786 to $12,938)
- Eligibility requirements: You must be an NJ citizen or eligible non-citizen to be eligible to file the NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application. In addition, you must be a full-time student at a participating school in an approved program. Participating schools include community and state colleges, Rutgers, and NJIT. For a complete list of schools and requirements, visit the NJ HESAA site.
- Deadline to apply: September 15 (fall and spring); February 15 (spring only)
With a little digging, New Jersey residents may find they have plenty of financial aid options available to them, including state-provided grants, scholarships, and loans. If you’re considering attending school in New Jersey, start the financial aid process as soon as possible so you can increase your odds at securing the funds you need to attend the school or program you want.
Author: Jennifer Lobb