NEW JERSEY — Garden State colleges and universities have been awarded nearly $30 million in federal funding to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on postsecondary students, .
About $28.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education will be awarded to 35 institutions of higher learning that receive state aid, according to Gov. Phil Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges. (See list below).
The money comes from the second round of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding, will help these institutions support the core priorities of the State Plan for Higher Education, officials said.
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It will be used to implement to launch the “Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge,” a competitive grant program used to implement vetted best practices that increase college completion, address barriers to student success, and develop sustainable systemic reforms, state officials said.
The program focuses on many of the populations that were hit the hardest by the pandemic, including historically disadvantaged, including underrepresented minorities, low-income students, and working-age adults, officials said.
These groups saw declines in enrollment and unprecedented challenges to success and unemployment numbers. By dedicating this money, officials aim to boost college completion and increase college graduation rates to meet the demands of a workforce that is currently underserved.
More than $1 million will also be awarded to 11 public institutions to combat food insecurity among students.
“Our institutions of higher education have provided a high-quality of education to our students throughout the pandemic, despite challenging circumstances,” Murphy said. “Supporting our institutions will continue to be a priority as they work to provide an equitable educational experience for students, prepare them for the jobs of the future and meet challenges ahead.”
“Through this critical federal funding, New Jersey is prioritizing students’ needs and ensuring our workforce will be ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s post-pandemic economy,” Bridges said. “We appreciate that institutions are committing to this challenge and look forward to learning from the innovative best practices implemented, as we strive to meet the state’s goal of 65 percent of residents earning a high-quality credential by 2025.”
Institutions chose from a series of interventions reflecting the five core priority areas of the State Plan:
- expanding opportunities for students to gain early college exposure;
- improving college affordability;
- fostering student success;
- promoting safe and inclusive learning environments; and
- cultivating research, innovation, and talent.
Through this funding, institutions will be embarking on projects including:
- expanding dual enrollment programs to increase access and eliminate financial barriers for low-income students;
- expanding support around issues such as food insecurity and lack of childcare to encourage students to stay in school;
- implementing free-of-cost bridge programs serving first-generation and Pell-eligible students as they transition from high school to college and/or from virtual to in-person learning;
- expanding student mental health services and building peer mentor programs; and
- increasing student success in gateway courses, particularly math, to help reduce students’ cost and ensure success in Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
A breakdown of the $28.5 million by institution is as follows:
- Montclair State University: $1,310,500.00
- New Jersey Institute of Technology: $1,401,884.96
- Rowan University: $1,499,993.00
- Rutgers, Camden: $875,520.00
- Rutgers, New Brunswick: $638,102.02
- Rutgers, Newark: $1,500,000.00
- Kean University: $832,566.00
- New Jersey City University: $498,344.00
- Ramapo College of NJ: $283,000.00
- Stockton University: $662,280.00
- The College of New Jersey: $1,000,000.00
- Thomas Edison State University: $483,496.00
- William Paterson University: $1,488,000.00
- Atlantic Cape Community College: $414,297.00
- Bergen Community College: $562,492.42
- Brookdale Community College: $374,460.02
- Camden County College: $814,193.78
- Essex County College: $1,000,000.00
- Hudson County Community College: $499,983.00
- Mercer County Community College: $1,000,000.00
- Middlesex College: $542,000.00
- Passaic County Community College: $1,000,000.00
- Raritan Valley Community College: $983,118.50
- Rowan College at Burlington County: $1,000,000.00
- Salem Community College: $398,100.00
- Union County College: $998,800.00
- Bloomfield College: $500,000.00
- Drew University: $500,000.00
- Fairleigh Dickinson University: $1,395,777.00
- Georgian Court University: $200,000.00
- Rider University: $500,000.00
- Saint Elizabeth University: $498,860.00
- Saint Peter’s University: $500,000.00
- Seton Hall University: $1,495,190.00
- Stevens Institute of Technology: $849,042.30
- Total: $28,500,000.00
More than $1 million in funding is supporting the goals of the “Hunger-Free Campus Act,” which Murphy signed in 2019. Funding is only available to public institutions that met all the act’s requirements during the 2020-21 academic year.
Grant funding will be used to address student hunger, leverage more sustainable solutions to address basic food needs on campuses, raise awareness of currently-offered campus services, and continue building strategic partnerships at the local, state, and national levels to address food insecurity among students.
A breakdown of the Hunger-Free grant award allocations by institution is as follows:
- Montclair State University: $100,000.00
- Rowan University: $100,000.00
- Rutgers, New Brunswick: $99,647.00
- Rutgers, Newark: $100,000.00
- Kean University: $56,200.00
- Stockton University: $80,038.94
- The College of New Jersey: $99,082.99
- Camden County College: $100,000.00
- Mercer County Community College: $99,833.90
- Middlesex College: $100,000.00
- Ocean County College: $79,317.56
- Total: $1,014,120.39