A new financial support program at Rutgers University–Camden will transform access to a Rutgers degree by helping New Jersey families dramatically reduce their college cost by waiving tuition in full or by half.
The first of its kind among New Jersey’s public four-year colleges and universities, “Bridging the Gap” will strengthen Rutgers–Camden’s commitment to providing access to a world-class Rutgers degree within a supportive campus environment, says Rutgers–Camden Chancellor Phoebe A. Haddon.
First-year students, who are U.S. citizens (or legal permanent U.S. residents) and residents of the State of New Jersey, and who are seeking to enroll at Rutgers University–Camden next fall can apply for this program by completing the 2016-17 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Families with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $60,000 or less will receive a grant covering all of their tuition and the general campus fee not already covered by federal and/or state grants. Families with an AGI of $60,001 to $100,000 will receive a grant covering 50% of their remaining tuition and the general campus fee after any other need-based federal and/or state grants are applied.
Through this program, student loan debt carried by Rutgers University–Camden students during their time as students and for years after graduation will be greatly reduced; for many families, it may be avoided.
“Bold moves are necessary to counter the real debt challenges that face college graduates across the nation. This Rutgers–Camden initiative is an innovative response that is structured to help ensure that every New Jersey student and family seeking a world-class Rutgers education can do so right here in South Jersey,” says Haddon.
“Our program offers a pathway to achieve a Rutgers degree regardless of socioeconomic status. This is the historical promise of American higher education system, and it is our commitment here at Rutgers University–Camden to make certain that we prepare New Jerseyans for success and without serious debt.”
The “Bridging the Gap” program is offered exclusively to New Jersey residents who will be new first-year undergraduate students enrolling full-time in degree programs on the Rutgers University–Camden campus. Students may renew their “Bridging the Gap” grant annually provided that they successfully complete 30 credit hours in an academic year and remain in good academic standing. It is not transferrable to other Rutgers campuses or off-campus Rutgers programs.
During the 2013-14 aid year, 72% of all undergraduate students at Rutgers–Camden took out loans to cover their educational cost. According to Craig Westman, associate chancellor for enrollment management at Rutgers University–Camden, “‘Bridging the Gap’ was created to substantially lower that amount and to allow students to begin their careers and advance their lives without long-term debt.
“By some estimates, the United States carries more than $1.3 trillion in student debt,” says Westman. “By removing in some cases, and dramatically lowering in others, the debt burden for some of our students, we are creating opportunities for students to access their futures, and for our regional economy to realize the benefits of its investment in supporting public higher education in a more timely manner.
“The economic and social costs of student loan debt can be profound, even at a state-supported institution such as Rutgers” continues Westman. “Students choose top-level universities such as Rutgers–Camden to gain the knowledge and skills that give them a competitive edge as they begin their careers and advance their lives. It is our responsibility as leaders in higher education to create opportunities for students to launch their lives without the burden of debt loads.
“In doing so, we serve our students and their families. We also serve our communities, our state, and our nation by clearing the path for these new graduates to graduate on schedule, which gets them to employment that much sooner. In turn, this process increases their lifetime earning potential and heightens their ability to help grow New Jersey’s economy.”
“Affordable tuition alone is not enough,” adds Haddon. “At Rutgers–Camden, we are committed to making certain that our students have a diversity of experiential learning opportunities and all of the support services that they need to graduate and to maximize their Rutgers experience.”
Rutgers University–Camden continues to offer merit-based scholarships and other financial aid for students not served by the “Bridging the Gap” program.