First Bridging the Gap Students Graduate

By Tom McLaughlin

In fall 2015, Rutgers University–Camden launched Bridging the Gap, a bold financial support program that transforms access to a Rutgers degree by helping New Jersey families dramatically reduce their college costs, covering tuition partially or in full.

The possibilities and promise envisioned at the program’s inception have come to fruition as the first 89 students graduate this May.

Eddy Yeung

“We couldn’t be prouder of these Rutgers–Camden graduates,” says Chancellor Phoebe A. Haddon. “In reaching this milestone, and in the bright career paths that lie before them, their successes demonstrate how public universities can fulfill a commitment to access and affordability.”

A first of its kind among New Jersey’s four-year colleges and universities, the initiative has, to date, resulted in 77 percent more first-year undergraduate students enrolled at Rutgers–Camden; 89 percent more first-year, first-generation students; 201 percent more first-year African-American undergraduate students; and 94 percent more first-year Hispanic undergraduate students.

Eddy Yeung, a graduating computer science major from Voorhees, recalls that, while he had other available options to attend college, he ultimately chose Rutgers–Camden because Bridging the Gap allowed him to save money instead of accruing debt. The first-generation college graduate is now grateful for the opportunity.

“I feel very fortunate that I had the resources and ability to succeed at Rutgers–Camden because my parents did not have the same opportunity as me,” says Yeung, who recently launched a website to aid New Jersey’s struggling small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It means a lot to me. I validated their hard work by graduating with honors and being the first in my family to do so.”

Gabrielle Winter

Gabrielle Winter, a graduating criminal justice and political science major from West Deptford, says that Bridging the Gap allowed her to concentrate on her education instead of worrying about how to pay for her expenses.

“It took one more stress off of my back,” says Winter. “I couldn’t express my appreciation enough.”

Tamia Taylor, a graduating senior majoring in psychology and childhood studies from Mays Landing, summed up it succinctly when she said that, without Bridging the Gap, graduation day might never have come.

“Bridging the Gap helped cover a good amount of costs that otherwise I may not have been able to,” says Taylor. “Thus, this day may not have been possible.”

Bridging the Gap is currently the only initiative that helps New Jersey families realize immediate savings on college expenses from day one, and not deferred until later in their college careers.

Moreover, the program enables students to gain research-university experience on the first day instead of deferring this invaluable experience until their junior or senior years through transfer programs with county colleges.

Tamia Taylor

The program works by closing the gap between federal and state sources of financial support and the balance of tuition and the general campus fee. Rutgers–Camden automatically applies the Bridging the Gap grant to the remaining costs.

Families with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $60,000 or less receive a grant covering all of their tuition and the general campus fee not already covered by federal Pell grants and/or state-funded Tuition Aid Grants (TAG).

Families with an AGI of $60,001 to $80,000 receive a grant covering 75 percent, and families with an AGI of $80,001 to $100,000 receive a grant covering 50 percent of their remaining tuition and the general campus fee.

The 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.

By focusing on reducing and eliminating debt, every student and family – regardless of socioeconomic status – now has a pathway to the same world-class Rutgers degree in South Jersey that has earned a national reputation for its unique combination of quality, access, and affordability.

Posted in: Campus Life

Comments are closed.