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Madden, Gopal Bill to Improve College Opportunities for Surviving Spouses and Children of Public Safety Workers Now Law

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred Madden and Senator Vin Gopal, which would eliminate the eligibility time limit on tuition benefits for spouses and children of certain public safety workers killed in the performance of their duties, was signed into law on January 21.

“A family is faced with immediate struggles after the loss of a spouse, struggles that can last a lifetime,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Imposing a strict time limit on the higher education benefit could pose an additional hardship on surviving spouses and their children. These families deserve to have the right to choose when they are ready to utilize the benefit without a time limitation looming over them.”

By law, surviving spouses and children of certain public safety workers who are killed in the performance of their duties may be eligible for a higher education tuition benefit. To be eligible, the child or spouse must be enrolled and in good standing at an undergraduate program in the state. The state will pay full tuition costs to a public institution of higher education and full or partial tuition costs to an independent institution of higher education.

The new law eliminates the requirement that spouses enroll in higher education within eight years of the worker’s death and eliminates the eligibility limitation imposed on the children, which required enrollment within eight years of their high school graduation.

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