TRENTON � A measure sponsored by Senators John H. Adler and Shirley K. Turner which would amend the laws that created the NJ STARS I and NJ STARS II programs to provide a military services exemption for NJ STARS scholarship recipients who are called to active duty received unanimous final legislative approval today by the full Senate.
�We should do everything we can to show our veterans how highly we regard them and the work they do to protect our country and our freedom,� said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. �This is one of the many ways that government can and should embrace our veterans.�
�This legislation is about helping to ensure that we honor our service members who are called into active duty while working to obtain a college degree,� said Senator Turner, D-Mercer, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. �As they risk their lives helping to protect us, we must also work to ensure that their educational opportunities are protected here at home.�
The Senators� bill, S-2956, would allow students who are enrolled in either the NJ STARS I or NJ STARS II programs and are called to active duty as a member of the military to maintain the scholarship, and resume matriculating once the tour of duty ends.
Under current law, in order to be eligible for either of the NJ STARS programs, students must maintain continuous, full-time enrollment.
The New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS) program enables students who graduate in the top 20% of their high school class to attend any of the State’s community colleges free of charge. The law was amended to expand the program to offer the scholarship to NJ STARS scholars who finish their first year of college with a GPA of 3.0 or above, not just those in the top 20% of their class.
NJ STARS II allows any county college student who has earned an Associate’s degree through the NJ STARS program, and maintained at least a 3.0 GPA to receive a $2,000 per semester scholarship to the public four-year New Jersey college of his or her choice. The participating college or university then covers the remainder of the cost of tuition and fees. County college credits are fully transferable, allowing the students to begin at the four-year institution as juniors. Students are able to receive any State and Federal need-based grants and merit scholarships to which they are entitled.
This measure was approved by the Senate Education Committee on November 29. It now heads to the Governor�s desk where his signature would make it state law.