New Jersey College Grants — Your Options and How to Apply

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The New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) dispenses student loans with no borrowing caps, though there are origination fees and a relatively small choice of repayment options. But you could avoid or cut down on your student loan borrowing because the state also offers some assistance in the form of New Jersey grants.

These New Jersey grants for college assist both citizens and eligible noncitizens with footing the bill for college. Here’s our take on what you should know about these awards and how to get them:

5 New Jersey grants for college
Applying for New Jersey state grants
New Jersey grants not enough? Student loans can help

5 New Jersey grants for college

State grant programs vary, but New Jersey is rare in that many of its grants can be used at any of the colleges in the state — that is, not only public universities, but also private and community institutions.

In general, to be eligible for New Jersey grants, you must:

  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be a legal resident of New Jersey for at least a year
  • Maintain satisfactory academic standing
  • Be a full-time undergraduate student
  • Not be in default on any federal or state student loans

Here’s what you need to know about New Jersey grants and how to apply.

1. Tuition Aid Grant
2. Part-Time Tuition Aid Grant
3. Educational Opportunity Fund
4. Community College Opportunity Grant
5. Governor’s Industry Vocations Scholarship

1. Tuition Aid Grant

The Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) is available to undergraduate students in approved degree or certificate programs. It can cover up to the full cost of tuition. Awards range from $2,712 to $12,798 and are renewable annually. One-third of full-time New Jersey students qualify for this grant.

Eligibility: You must meet all the general criteria for New Jersey grants, such as having a high school diploma and demonstrating financial need. You also must be enrolled full-time in an approved undergraduate degree or certificate program.

How to apply: You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for this grant. Eligible noncitizens may complete the state’s NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application.

2. Part-Time Tuition Aid Grant

TAG also offers the Part-Time TAG for county college students who are enrolled in six to 11 credits. The grant is prorated based on the number of credits you take, but it can cover up to the full cost of tuition.

Eligibility: You need to meet the requirements for the traditional TAG (see above), and you must be enrolled at a New Jersey county college.

How to apply: It’s the same process as applying for TAG. You must fill out the FAFSA or the NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application.

3. Educational Opportunity Fund

The Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) offers a grant that supplements TAG and provides aid to cover extra educational expenses, such as books, fees and room and board. Undergraduate students can receive between $200 and $2,650 annually, and the grant is renewable.

Unlike some other New Jersey grants, this one is available at only 41 of New Jersey’s colleges, and each school decides who is eligible for program participation. Graduate grants of up to $4,350 are available as well.

Eligibility: In addition to meeting the general requirements for all New Jersey grants, you must demonstrate an economically and educationally disadvantaged background. You also must meet the academic criteria set by the school.

How to apply: Make sure your school of choice participates in the EOF program and fill out the FAFSA. Then, contact the EOF campus director to find out if you need to meet additional criteria, as program eligibility varies by school. They will inform you if you need to fill out additional paperwork.

4. Community College Opportunity Grant

If you have a financial need and plan to attend one of the state’s 18 county colleges, New Jersey’s Community College Opportunity Grant could be a fit. In fact, if you sign up for six or more credits at one of these two-year schools, you could attend tuition-free.

Some fees are covered by the grant, although not all — it won’t help you with the cost of expensive textbooks needed for class, for example.

Eligibility: Aside from the course requirements, you and your family must have an adjusted gross income below $65,000.

How to apply: There’s no separate form to fill out to be considered. As soon as completing the FAFSA or the NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application, your school will consider your eligibility when putting together your financial aid award letter.

5. Governor’s Industry Vocations Scholarship

The $2,000-per-year award offered through the Governor’s Industry Vocations Scholarship is available to women and minority groups attending an eligible school, and it isn’t merit-based. It was originally developed to benefit students pursuing a certificate or degree in a construction-related field, but the exact field of study is amendable.

Eligibility: You must be a female or a member of a minority group, which is defined by the state as someone who is Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native. You also must attend an approved school. Men must prove they registered with Selective Service. All other state grant requirements must be met, and your annual household income can’t exceed $60,000.

To be eligible for renewal, you must maintain a satisfactory academic record while in school.

How to apply: Start by filling out an application on the HESAA website. Then, file a FAFSA and make sure you’re enrolled at a qualifying school.

Applying for New Jersey state grants

Even if you’re unsure whether you qualify for a state grant, you should apply to find out. It’s money that can help you keep the cost of college down. Make sure you apply for other state and federal aid as well to ensure you’re getting the most financial aid possible.

New Jersey grants not enough? Student loans can help

Although you’ll want to focus on scholarships and grants first, education loans could be useful in helping you cover what the other aid doesn’t. A loan could mean the difference between being able to afford your tuition and other costs.

New Jersey students have the option of borrowing directly from the state. Keep in mind, however, that the HESAA’s NJCLASS student loans have some downsides as well:

  • A 3% loan origination fee (though HESAA notes that this is currently lower than the fee for a federal PLUS loan)
  • Choice of just three repayment terms, 10, 15 or 20 years (although the 20-year option may be limited to a certain number of borrowers, as it was for the 2019-2020 school year)
  • In-school deferment option is only available on the 20-year term

In addition to New Jersey student loans, take a look at some solid private student loan options from banks, credit unions and online companies.

The most reputable lenders charge no federal-loan-like origination fees and provide significantly more flexibility on when you begin repayment and the length of your repayment term. For examples of these lenders, check out our private loan marketplace.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

 

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