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November 11, 2021

How New Jersey Scaled-up their Promise to College Students

New Jersey residents pay the fourth-highest price for public four-year colleges, a cost that has prohibited the states’ more vulnerable populations from access to postsecondary education. To address the issue of universal attainment, in 2019 New Jersey announced a state goal that 65% of working age residents would earn a postsecondary credential by 2025. With such an ambitious undertaking, the state immediately launched its Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG). Knowing that college funding is usually attached to high eligibility requirements, CCOG aimed to make requirements as universal as possible.

New Jersey’s 2022 fiscal budget allowed them to expand on CCOG by planning the Garden State Guarantee (GSG). The GSG will allow expanded funding for years three and four of postsecondary education, making the New Jersey Promise one of the first programs to combine statewide free tuition at two and four-year postsecondary institutions.

The New Jersey team shared their experience building out their state Promise program in the brief, “How New Jersey Scaled-up their Promise to College Students.” In the brief, key recommendations for building a program are shared including the following:

  • Connect proposals to enhance student success

Institutions can often have limited resources so policy initiatives must enhance rather than be a further drain on capacity.  

  • Involve stakeholders in design and implementation

Diverse groups of stakeholders and experts were asked for input in the risk planning process.

  • Make data-driven decisions

The state will require senior public institutions to provide student unit-level financial aid information to best model costs.

  • Communicate clearly to ensure the success of a complex proposal

New Jersey’s College Promise will require consistent outreach to communities, messaging that college is affordable and accessible.

To read more about their recommendations and the work happening in New Jersey, read the brief here. Also, register to see New Jersey Promise students tell their stories at the Careers institute next week.

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