TRENTON – The Senate today unanimously approved “NJ STARS II,” a measure sponsored by Senator Wayne R. Bryant that would allow some of the State’s top students to earn Bachelors degrees, free of cost.
“By allowing these students to earn their Bachelors degrees free of cost, New Jersey would be sending them a clear message that their years of hard work and academic success have indeed paid off,” said Senator Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester, who chairs the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and serves as a member of the Senate Education panel. “As a State we have an obligation to help these students reach their full academic potential. New Jersey cannot and will not allow financial barriers to determine their future successes.”
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 his or her 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.
“These students represent the best New Jersey has to offer. They also represent the future of the State, and we should give them every opportunity to succeed,” said Senator Bryant.
The measure now heads to the Assembly for consideration.