TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Wayne R. Bryant that would expand the “NJ STARS” law to enable some of the State’s most exceptional students to earn Bachelor’s degrees free of charge was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
“This measure is the next step in helping to reward New Jersey’s exceptional students for their hard work,” said Senator Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester, Chair of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Education Committee. “With this bill, we are pushing ‘NJ STARS’ further, to help ensure that the State’s best students are able to continue their educational careers and earn the necessary degrees to allow them to compete in tomorrow’s workforce.”
“In only its second year of existence, the “NJ STARS” program is already having a tremendously positive impact on the lives of nearly 2,500 of the State’s top high school graduates who are attending community colleges now,” said Dr. Lawrence Nespoli, president, New Jersey Council of County Colleges. “By sponsoring ‘NJ STARS II,’ Senator Bryant is sending the message to New Jersey’s families that if your children achieve in high school, then a four-year college education is no longer just a dream – it’s a reality.”
Senator Bryant’s bill, S-2905, would establish the “NJ STARS II” program to allow 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 their choice. County college credits would be fully transferable, allowing the students to begin at the four-year institution as juniors. Students would also be able to receive any State and Federal need-based grants and merit scholarships to which they are entitled.
Signed into law in 2004, 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 in August of this year 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 has opened the door to higher education for many excellent students who otherwise might not have been able to pursue their dreams,” said Dr. R. Barbara Gitenstein, President of The College of New Jersey. “Extending the program will provide both incentive and opportunity for those students to advance that pursuit even further. I commend Senator Bryant for his support of New Jersey’s students.”
“The original ‘NJ STARS’ legislation developed by Senator Bryant has made the first two years of college possible for me and the other 2,483 top students who have been able to participate in this program,”said Chanelle Robinson, a second year Elementary/Secondary education major at Camden County College. “The ‘NJ STARS II’ legislation would help ensure that the second half of our undergraduate education would be no less of a reality.”
This measure now awaits a vote by the full Senate