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HomePolicyNew Jersey Colleges to Receive $29.5 Million in Federal Funding

New Jersey Colleges to Receive $29.5 Million in Federal Funding

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Jeff Bridges have announced $29.5 million in federal grant money to support the state’s colleges and universities during the challenges they have been facing due to the ongoing pandemic.

Provided by the Department of Education as part of its COVID relief efforts, the grants will be used to finance two new programs to support the goals of the State Plan for Higher Educationa competitive challenge grant open to all higher education institutions and a second grant to eliminate hunger and food insecurity on college campuses.

“Now more than ever, this necessary funding will provide the financial assistance for our colleges and universities to better serve our students and continue propelling them toward their fullest potentials,” Governor Murphy said.

Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge Grants

The coronavirus has had a devastating effect on colleges and students. The “Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge” competitive grant program will go to public and public-mission private institutions that receive state operating aid.

Approximately $28.5 million out of the $29.5 million will go towards addressing “barriers to student success” caused by the pandemic and develop “sustainable systemic reforms” to address vulnerabilities laid bare by the crisis.

Colleges and universities can apply for a maximum total grant award based on their full-time enrollment numbers — $500,000 for small institutions, $1 million for medium institutions, and $1.5 million for large institutions. 

The schools must use the grant to support underrepresented student groups such as ethnic minorities, low-income students, and working-age adults who have been severely affected by the pandemic to overcome such unprecedented hardship.

The competitive grant will also go towards achieving the state’s goal of providing 65 percent of working-age adults with high-quality credentials by 2025. The money will help train a large number of people so that they can contribute to the state’s workforce.

Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program

The remaining $1 million will go to supporting the “Hunger-Free Campus Act,” signed by Governor Murphy in 2019. With food and housing insecurity on the rise throughout the state as well as on college campuses, the grant will go toward combating hunger and homelessness among college students.

Every public institution with a “Hunger-Free Campus” designation can qualify for $40,000 to $100,000 in grants. The final number of awards, however, will be based on the total number and quality of applications received. 

The Hunger-Free Campus Grant is the outcome of a survey that showed 40 percent of respondents in New Jersey community colleges had been food insecure within the previous month, 44 percent had been housing insecure, while 14 percent had reported homelessness.

State legislator Mila Jasey said these numbers are the “sad reality for an overwhelming number of students while trying to balance the stresses of college” during the pandemic. “No college student should ever have to worry where their next meal will come from,” she said.

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