New State Budget to Include ‘Garden State Guarantee’ Free Tuition Initiative

By: Kaitlyn Kudriavetz, Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy announced his new budget plan earlier this week, which will allow people in eligible families who are making less than $65,000 a year to get up to four years of free college tuition.

This budget plan includes an expansion upon the state’s free community college program, which covers two years of community college-related costs for eligible students.

The four-year program, called the Garden State Guarantee Initiative, would allow for students to complete their third and fourth year of their bachelor’s degree at a New Jersey public school.

The program is designed to cover tuition and fees, so students would still be responsible for room and board, transportation, and books, among other costs.

Gov. Murphy’s proposal awaits approval by the Legislature as it decides how to allocate funds from COVID-19 federal aid and tax collections. If approved, the revised Garden State Guarantee Initiative would be available to students beginning in the fall of 2022.

New Jersey’s upcoming state budget will come with a huge surplus of more than $10 billion. This surplus came from an increase in tax collection, and the state also got $6.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding. Several colleges in the state — such as Rutgers University’s Camden campus, have their own programs that offer low-income students tuition-free admission into the school.

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.