An Overview of Financial Aid for New Jersey College Students

A lot of teenagers may think that college is the time to get away from home and move to some far off state.

Sure, it’d be nice to get away from home. But going out of state for school can be really expensive. What most students don’t realize, though, is that you’re not just paying more for school by paying out of state tuition, but you’re also getting less financial aid.

To help understand that, here’s a quick overview of the financial aid available to New Jersey’s college bound students…

Common Financial Aid Awards

Pell Grant. This is a federal grant, based on family income. The requirements are fairly strict, and your family has to fall relatively low on the income ladder to qualify for this. It is awarded on the federal level, though, so you can take this money with you anywhere. This can be up to about $5,000.

Stafford Loans. These are federal loans, so again you can take these with you out of state. These are easy to get, guaranteed student loans. You’ll be able to borrow a little over $5,000 during your first year of college through this program.

New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant. Here is where the special NJ awards come in. HESAA, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, offers grants to New Jersey students only if they go to school in state.

These grants are based on family income, but the requirements are broader than those of the Pell Grants. Families with incomes up to $60 or $70,000 can still qualify for a partial TAG grant, which means that you can get free money to go to school in New Jersey. The neediest students receive an award of almost $6,000.

So Why Stay In State…?

For students whose families don’t make a lot of money, the combination of a Pell Grant and a NJ TAG grant can go a long way towards paying for your college education.

Students that qualify for full funding from both programs receive over $11,000 a year in free grants that they don’t have to pay back. That will fully pay for tuition at any of New Jersey’s public institutions (i.e. Rutgers, William Paterson University), and cover about half the bill if you decide to live on campus.

Students who move out of state, on the other hand, give up that free money offered by HESAA. In addition, they’ll end up paying out of state tuition rates, which will increase their bill by another $5 to $10,000 per year. All told, leave New Jersey could easily cost you $10 to $15,000 a year – in higher tuition and lower aid.

You may not want to stay home, but you don’t have to leave the state. It pays to stay in New Jersey, especially if you’re family isn’t wealthy and you qualify for some need-based financial aid.

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