Free college tuition for some NJ students closer to a reality

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Free college tuition for some community college students from New Jersey may be coming closer to a reality.

Several county community colleges are spearheading the change, along with Gov. Phil Murphy.

Murphy announced Thursday at Union County College that the state will spend $25 million to cover student costs at 13 county colleges – with requirements attached.

“These students will be required, I don’t want to sound too much like a dad here, to maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain eligible,” the governor said.

Eligible students must come from families with incomes of less than $45,000 a year. They must also exhaust other financial aid before the state grants kick in.

RELATED: New Jersey law lets students without legal status get aid
RELATED: Gov. Murphy outlines $50M for partially free community college
RELATED: Free tuition could help students graduate faster, educators say

Murphy says that one of the goals of the program is to enable students to finish school faster and then get into the workforce.

Many college students tell News 12 New Jersey that they think this is a good idea.

“Money is hard to come by and sometimes financial aid doesn’t cover all of it,” says student lance Harris.

“It would change…so many students’ lives who want to go to college,” says Christina Guerra.

But opponents say that the plan will put an unfair burden on New Jersey taxpayers.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Tom Kean Jr. said in a statement, “Gov. Murphy's plan merely shifts the expense of tuition to New Jersey taxpayers at an estimated cost of $200 million - $400 million the program is fully implemented."

The senator said that he would like to work with the governor on controlling costs at state colleges and universities in order to keep tuition bills affordable.

Free community college tuition was one of the campaign promises Murphy made prior to being elected.

New Jersey has 19 county colleges.

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