CRANFORD – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy held a press conference at Union County College’s Cranford campus to announce the recipients of the Community College Opportunity Grant. The grant will allow eligible students in New Jersey to attend community college free of tuition and fees in the spring semester of 2019. Union County College was one of the 13 institutions chosen to pilot the first stage of the new program.
Union County College honor student Kaitlyn Veliz, of Union, shared her story and introduced Governor Murphy, who was joined by New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis for the announcement. The presidents from many of the 19 community colleges joined Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin for the exciting occasion. Also in attendance were Union County College Board of Trustees Chairman Victor M. Richel, Union County College Board of Trustees member Lawrence D. Bashe, Union County College Board of Governors member Jeffrey H. Katz, Esq., Union County Freeholder Vice Chairman Bette Jane Kowalski and Freeholder Bruce H. Bergen, and New Jersey Council of County Colleges President Dr. Aaron Fichtner.
“Thank you to Governor Murphy for choosing Union County College to participate in the Community College Opportunity Grant,” stated President McMenamin. “This grant will have a transformative impact on the lives of our students and the community. More Union residents will have the opportunity to earn an advanced degree without the added stress and worry of paying for college. It will be a game changer for many.”
Students who have adjusted gross incomes up to $45,000 and take six or more credits in the spring 2019 semester may be eligible for funding. The awards will be given after all other federal or state grant aid is applied to an individual’s account. Students who receive funding would be required to maintain satisfactory academic progress.
“Governor Murphy’s goal is to make two years of community college tuition free for students across the state,” said David Socolow, Executive Director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. “This initial phase will not only help thousands of students next spring, both recent high school graduates and working adults, but also will provide valuable lessons for future expansions of the program to offer free tuition to more students.”
To apply for the grant, the College had to share plans for outreach to and support for students, how cost projections fit within statewide funding constraints, and show geographic diversity. All nineteen community colleges will receive a capacity building grant of at least $250,000 to plan for additional phases of the program.
Union County College is a public comprehensive community college providing quality, affordable, accessible educational programs that serve the greater Union County region. It is the first of New Jersey’s 19 Associate Degree colleges, serving both career-minded and transfer-oriented students since 1933. The College enrolls almost 20,000 credit, non-credit, and continuing education students and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Many programs lead to an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or an Associate in Applied Science degree.
For more information about Union County College, go to www.ucc.edu.
In the center of the photo is New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, with New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis (left) and Dr. McMenamin (right), and Union students.