Rutgers to Provide Free Tuition to Undergrads From Low-Income Families
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A new financial assistance program, known as Scarlet Guarantee, will have a significant impact on thousands of students at Rutgers University by reducing tuition and fees for families with an annual income below $100,000. Starting in the 2022-2023 academic year, first- and second-year students on the New Brunswick campus will have access to this program. Rutgers officials estimate that approximately 7,600 students, which accounts for nearly 20% of enrolled undergraduates, will be eligible for this initiative.
The establishment of the Scarlet Guarantee aligns with the Garden State Guarantee, which is a college affordability program recently signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy. The Garden State Guarantee focuses on supporting third- and fourth-year students from low- and middle-income households.
By taking advantage of both programs, students from families with an adjusted gross income of $65,000 or less will have their full tuition and mandatory fees covered for four years. For families with incomes ranging from $65,001 to $80,000, the maximum cost will be $3,000 per year. Families earning between $80,001 and $100,000 will face a maximum yearly cost of $5,000. However, students are still responsible for covering other expenses such as meal plans, housing, textbooks, transportation, and miscellaneous costs.
Initially, the Scarlet Guarantee is projected to cost $24 million in its first year, with a contribution of $10 million from the state. This program operates as a "last dollar" initiative, which means it will offer additional financial aid on top of existing scholarships and grants.
Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway has expressed his belief that the Scarlet Guarantee program will enable students from all across New Jersey to pursue their aspirations and contribute to the university’s diversity and growth.
This program is part of a wider national movement to address the exorbitant costs associated with higher education. According to the College Board, the average tuition at public colleges in the United States for the 2021-2022 academic year was $10,740. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that college costs have increased by 169% between 1980 and 2019.
For the current academic year, in-state tuition at Rutgers stands at $12,536, while non-New Jersey residents pay over $29,000. Additionally, students incur an average of $13,400 for room and board and approximately $3,268 in fees. The tuition fees for the 2022-2023 academic year have yet to be determined.
According to a study conducted by the Education Data Initiative in 2022, New Jersey ranks as the fifth most expensive state for in-state college tuition, following New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
Applying for the Scarlet Guarantee program does not require any additional paperwork. Students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application for Dreamers (protecting undocumented students under DACA) will automatically be considered.
To be eligible for the program, students must be enrolled full-time, taking at least 12 credits per semester, and working towards their first bachelor’s degree. They must also meet academic progress standards. Fifth-year students and graduate students are not eligible for the program.
Rutgers Camden and Rutgers Newark already offer similar programs providing free tuition to families earning less than $65,000, as well as reduced tuition fees for households with incomes below $100,000. Moreover, other educational institutions in New Jersey, including Stockton University and New Jersey City University, have expanded their financial aid programs to help alleviate costs for low- and middle-income students.
New Jersey is also home to the Community College Opportunity Grant, a program that offers free tuition to undergraduates from households with incomes of $65,000 or less at 18 community colleges.
The New Jersey Monitor is part of the States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501(c)(3) public charity. The New Jersey Monitor maintains editorial independence. For any inquiries, please contact Editor Terrence McDonald: email@example.com. Follow the New Jersey Monitor on Facebook and Twitter.
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