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NJ students from low-income households now eligible for four years of free tuition

The Garden State Guarantee initiative, which previously provided for the first two years of tuition for eligible students at New Jersey public universities, has now been expanded to up to four years. – Photo by

New Jersey college students from households with incomes of less than $65,000 a year are now eligible for up to four years of free tuition under a college affordability package signed into law on June 29 as part of the state’s 2022 budget.

The Garden State Guarantee expands upon the state's Community College Opportunity Grant, which provides for the first two years of eligible students' education at community colleges. Students in their third and fourth years of college with household incomes lower than $65,000 may now receive two years of additional free tuition at New Jersey public universities under the guarantee.

In addition, taxpayers with incomes below $75,000 who make a New Jersey Better Educational Savings Trust (NJBEST) account are now eligible for a grant of up to $750 in matching payments from the initial deposit, according to an article from Patch.

Taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or less may also receive deductions for up to $10,000 in NJBEST contributions, according to the article. And, they are eligible for up to $10,000 in deductions for in-state tuition payments and $2,500 in deductions for principal and interest payments under the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) program.

"These incentives will hopefully encourage more families to start a college fund for their children, giving them more freedom in deciding where they want to pursue a college degree," said Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-N.J.).

While many universities previously froze tuition due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, some such as Rutgers have raised it for the 2021-2022 academic year. A typical in-state undergraduate at Rutgers—New Brunswick will now pay $15,804 in tuition and fees as opposed to $15,407 last school year.

"We support the College Affordability Act and other important measures to make college more affordable in New Jersey," said University spokesperson Dory Devlin. "Providing income tax deductions for college tuition is an important step in helping New Jersey families offset the cost of tuition in New Jersey."

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated the program comes from an expansion of the Garden State Guarantee.

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