New Jersey Colleges, Universities to Receive $29.5 Million in COVID-19 Relief Funding

By: Joel Vazquez, Writer / Follow South Jersey Higher Education Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy, along with Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges, announced last week that $29.5 million in federal funding is available to New Jersey colleges and universities due to the pandemic.

The money will help accomplish the goals set by the State Higher Education Plan. About $28.5 million of the funds will be awarded to the state’s public and private institutions.

“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,” Gov. Murphy said in a press release.

Officially known as the Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge, the goal of the grant program is to increase college completion rates, break down barriers to student success, and develop sustainable systematic reforms. It will also help New Jersey get 65% of working-age adults to obtain a high-quality credential or degree by 2025.

“The COVID-19 pandemic only intensified the challenges many students already faced in the pursuit of higher education, including college affordability and food insecurity, making our State Plan priorities even more critical,” Bridges said.

The leftover $1 million will launch the Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program. It will help public schools combat food insecurities among students. According to the Hope Center for College, about 40% of the community college students that responded said they were food insecure within the previous 30 days, 44% were housing insecure, and 14% were homeless in the previous year.

“These grant initiatives will further our mission of eliminating food insecurity on campuses and for families across New Jersey, ” Assemblywoman Mila Jasey said in a press release. “No college student should ever have to worry where their next meal will come from.”

Applications for grants as part of this program aren’t available yet, but they’ll be released on the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education’s website when they are.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.