July 19, 2019 | 87° F

Rutgers—Newark announces free tuition program

Low-income students who want to attend Rutgers—Newark but cannot afford it are in luck this fall.

“RU—N to the TOP,” a major financial aid initiative, was announced Dec. 17, according to the school's website. The goal of the program is to recruit students and eliminate or decrease the cost of college for talented New Jersey residents.

The University will cover tuition and fees for students accepted to Rutgers—Newark whose household income is $60,000 or less, according to their website. The program will include transfer students who have earned an associate's degree from a New Jersey county college.

Residential scholarships will be awarded to honors living-learning community students that fully cover room and board, and the program will cost about $13,600 this year at Rutgers—Newark, according to the website.

Peter Englot, senior vice chancellor for public affairs and chief of staff at Rutgers—Newark, said he anticipates that the financial aid program will help address several key priorities identified in the RU—N strategic plan.

“Succinctly, ‘RU-N to the TOP’ is designed to make college more affordable for students from greater Newark and across New Jersey, something explicitly identified in our plan as a high priority. It also constitutes an investment in building human capacity in our community, where we are an anchor institution — another one of the key priorities in our plan,” he said.

Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers—Newark, said on their website that this program will speak to the challenges that face not only Newark and New Jersey, but communities everywhere.

"We are saying to the young people of the city of Newark and our great state (that) we see your talent. We honor your talent. We want you to learn with us, and we want to learn from you," she said.

Investing in the people and creating more pathways to college is the best way to strengthen democracy and compete in today’s global economy, she said.

The program has already been implemented at Rutgers—Camden, but there is no such program at Rutgers—New Brunswick yet.

Maseera Subhani, a Rutgers—Newark first-year student, said she thinks the school does their best when it comes to helping low-income families put their children through college.

“In Newark you see a lot more students who come from harsh backgrounds, but still find a way to get through school. I know the EOF (Educational Opportunity Fund) program helps a ton of kids, not only on the financial side of things, but also a counseling side,” she said.

She has friends who were born and raised in Newark. They have already benefited from programs that Rutgers has instituted at local middle and high schools to showcase what the school has to offer, including in terms of tuition, she said.

In her experience at Rutgers—Newark, it is often on the student to reach out and look for help with tuition by talking to faculty, advisors and financial aid officers. She said it is sometimes a hassle but the benefits for the student are never compromised.

“I definitely think the program will help students who have the drive to attend college, but don't have the financial coverage for it,” she said.

Michael Okolo, a School of Arts and Science sophomore, said he thinks that Rutgers—New Brunswick should use Newark as a template and implement this program, and although Rutgers—New Brunswick does a great job of reaching out to students in general, this program would have positive effects if implemented correctly.

“As one of the most diverse schools in the country, we should take pride in adding diversity to income of the students that we accept at our school,” he said.

Noa Halff

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