Governor Phil Murphy

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Governor Murphy Highlights Garden State Guarantee Initiative to Provide Two-Years Tuition-Free at New Jersey’s Four-Year Public Colleges and Universities


TRENTON – Furthering his commitment to address college affordability for students, Governor Phil Murphy today held a roundtable discussion with college students, elected officials, and university presidents to highlight the $50 million investment in the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) budget proposal toward the Garden State Guarantee initiative (GSG).  

“Since day one, we’ve taken meaningful steps toward addressing college affordability and attainability for students at all income levels,” said Governor Murphy. “With the Garden State Guarantee initiative, we’re making another critical investment to ensure that every student has access to an affordable, high-quality postsecondary education, which in return will create a highly skilled workforce and a stronger, fairer, and more resilient economy.”  

“The Garden State Guarantee is our commitment to ensuring New Jerseyans are well-positioned for success, particularly students of color, low-income families, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have traditionally not been afforded equal access to higher education,” said Dr. Brian Bridges, Secretary of Higher Education. “We owe it to our students to provide free college benefits that will improve their social mobility and our state’s overall financial health as we build long-term economic resiliency.”

The historic investment in the GSG initiative builds upon the success of the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG), by ensuring that eligible students can receive a tuition-free education for their first two years at any public college or university in New Jersey. Under the GSG initiative, students with an annual gross income of $65,000 or less will have the opportunity to receive tuition- and fee-free education for two years of study at one of New Jersey’s four-year public institutions. The FY2022 budget proposal allocates $45 million for the GSG initiative, which will increase direct aid to all 13 state colleges and universities through the Outcomes-Based Allocation and another $5 million will be available if additional funding is necessary for program implementation. Public institutions implementing GSG will also support eligible students by developing a sliding scale pricing structure for students above $65,000 annual gross income and create a guaranteed pricing structure for all students throughout their academic program. This initiative will be available for students starting in fall 2022. Currently, similar initiatives are offered at four of our 13 public four-year institutions: Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, William Paterson University, and New Jersey City University. Three other public institutions, Stockton University, Rowan University, and Kean University, recently announced similar programs that will begin in the fall of 2021.  

"One of the things that we can say about New Jersey proudly now is that it is becoming the education state of this country," said Senator Sandra Cunningham, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. "We are really showing the world that we are committed to an education for our residents and providing the best way to do that so that all of our people who want to get a four-year degree, they can easily do that."

"As a lead sponsor of the Community College Opportunity Grant program that is now law, I am excited and proud to promote the Garden State Guarantee," said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. "We need to work to make a seamless program so that money is well spent, not repeated or squandered and so that it goes as far as possible to make sure everyone in our state who wants an education can graduate without ten years of debt. Our people in our state are our treasure. There is no better investment than education and training."

“The Garden State Guarantee sharply reflects key recommendations made by the Governor’s working group on college affordability, which I had the honor of co-chairing with Rowan University President Ali Houshmand,” said Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers – Newark. “Our group of higher education leaders from across the state felt strongly that to close the equity and opportunity gaps facing students from low-income households and from groups underrepresented in our colleges and universities, it is essential for New Jersey to establish affordable and predictable pricing guarantees, making the net cost of college more transparent for students and families. I can tell you first-hand that we have seen these strategies work at Rutgers-Newark with our RU-N to the TOP program, which has helped pave pathways to us from Newark schools and from the state’s county colleges. These are proven strategies for attracting and retaining New Jersey students in a post-COVID world.”

“Montclair State University applauds the Governor's bold focus on public higher education affordability, an investment that is absolutely critical to the economic and social well-being of the State,” said Susan Cole, President of Montclair State University.

“It is in that spirit that NJCU proudly endorses the educational policy outlined in Governor Murphy’s proposed Garden State Guarantee and look forward to working with the Legislature, OSHE and our peers to see this completed,” said Sue Henderson, President of the New Jersey City University. “This is a historic investment which will afford undergraduate students with adjusted gross incomes of $65,000 or less the opportunity to attend our State’s four-year public institutions tuition-free for two years. The GSG builds upon our successful multi-year investment at NJCU demonstrated through our Debt-Free Promise Program.”