Published April 5, 2022

Rutgers–New Brunswick, Rutgers–Newark, and Rutgers–Camden augment New Jersey’s Garden State Guarantee to increase access to a college degree for low-income students.

All eligible New Jersey students can attend Rutgers tuition-free for four years through a combination of university, federal and state financial aid programs that make obtaining a college degree from the state university more accessible and affordable.

Rutgers-New Brunswick, Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden all offer undergraduate financial aid programs that build upon existing state aid to guarantee free tuition and mandatory fees for students in families with an adjusted gross income below $65,000 and provide for significantly reduced tuition and fees for those in families that earn between $65,000 and $100,000.

“All of our programs, combined with the New Jersey Garden State Guarantee (GSG) – the most significant financial aid program from the state in many years – strengthen our commitment to making an outstanding Rutgers education more accessible to more New Jersey families,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway.

In fall 2015, Rutgers-Camden launched Bridging the Gap, a first-of-its-kind financial aid program among New Jersey’s four-year colleges and universities. Rutgers-Newark established Rutgers University-Newark Talent and Opportunity Pathways (R-UN to the TOP) in 2016 to cover the difference between other aid students receive and the full cost of in-state tuition and mandatory fees, at first for Newark residents and N.J. community college transfer students. Last month, Rutgers-New Brunswick announced the Scarlet Guarantee to sharply drop net tuition and fees for thousands of students starting in fall 2022.

In combination with the state’s GSG, the programs provide the “last dollars” that undergraduate students need after receiving state and federal grants, including Pell Grants, Tuition Aid Grants and other scholarships and aid, to cover in-state tuition and mandatory fees for four years. Students receive coverage based on the following income criteria:

  • Students from families with adjusted gross income of $65,000 or less receive scholarship funds to cover full annual tuition and mandatory fees.
  • Students from families with adjusted gross income of $65,001 to $80,000 will pay no more than $3,000 per year toward tuition and mandatory fees.
  • Students from families with adjusted gross income of $80,001 to $100,000 will pay no more than $5,000 per year toward tuition and mandatory fees.

Since launching the first scholarship program of this kind at Rutgers seven years ago, Rutgers-Camden has provided scholarships to more than 2,900 students to access an undergraduate degree experience where they work with faculty who are leaders in their fields through Bridging the Gap.

“With the creation of the New Jersey Garden State Guarantee this year, we embraced the opportunity to expand our Bridging the Gap program to help more first- and second-year students while the GSG covers years three and four,” said Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Antonio Tillis.

Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, co-chair of the governor’s working group on college affordability that made recommendations reflected in the GSG, said in the past six years, R-UN to the Top has made scholarships available to nearly 5,000 students.

Rutgers-Newark announced a major expansion of its scholarship program in January to cover the full cost of annual in-state tuition and mandatory fees for more New Jersey students and cap the cost at $5,000 a year for families with household incomes of $100,000 or below based on a sliding scale.

“Rutgers-Newark has been a place of educational opportunity for generations, and by broadening our eligibility in this way, we want to send a strong signal to families across the state – especially in Newark and Greater Newark,’’ said Cantor, noting for residents of Newark, Irvington, Orange and East Orange, and community college transfers, RU-N to the TOP will also cover part-time enrollment and provide support for summer courses. “We recognize the challenges facing so many of our communities today and we’re more serious than ever about paving pathways to and through college and onto rewarding careers.

Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Scarlet Guarantee will be available to first- and second-year students while the Garden State Guarantee statewide program launched last month by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will cover third- and fourth-year students. An estimated 7,600 students at Rutgers-New Brunswick are expected to take advantage of the programs.

“These new programs are transformational for our state’s students,” said Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor-Provost Francine Conway. “Students who once thought a college education could never be within reach will have the access and opportunity to fulfill their life’s ambition. I couldn’t be more thrilled that Rutgers-New Brunswick will now be more inclusive of all students.”

Students are automatically considered for the GSG and the Rutgers programs when they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or if they qualify as a New Jersey Dreamer, the NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application.

In an era of declining support from traditional sources, philanthropy combined with programs like the Garden State Guarantee help position Rutgers among the world’s best colleges and universities, which make higher education accessible to talented students, regardless of their means.

For more information on the Rutgers programs that work in conjunction with the Garden State Guarantee:


Story originally appeared in Rutgers Today.

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