Rutgers-Camden: We can afford to give free tuition
It seems like a pricey task – handling half or all of tuition costs for the majority of incoming freshmen. But Rutgers-Camden says they have the money to do it, and the class of 2021 will be covered all the way to graduation.
In a conversation with New Jersey 101.5, the associate chancellor for enrollment management said the initiative known as Bridging the Gap will assist about 65 percent of the approximately 400 freshmen the school will welcome next fall.
“The grant dollars we have are sufficient to cover those students,” Craig Westman said. “We’re not tapping out.”
After federal and state aid are applied, the school will cover 100 percent of the bill for students who come from households with an income of $60,000 or less. Students whose homes bring in up to $100,000 will have 50 percent of costs handled by the school.
And this a completion program, Westman said. As long as the students remain full-time and perform well, they’ll get the same financial assistance each year.
Bridging the Gap is a pilot program, and Westman said Rutgers-Camden will examine its performance next year to see if there’s a need for expansion.
“Schools have contacted us, asking us how we’re doing it and why we’re doing it,” Westman said.
Not just any school can handle such a financial commitment. According to Westman, Rutgers-Camden is lucky enough to have a rather small student body, and most are commuters.
In a statement issued by the CEO, the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities praised the Rutgers-Camden initiative announced this week.
Michael Klein said Bridging the Gap is similar to programs in other states and the city of Chicago. Other Garden State institutions, such as Ramapo and The College of New Jersey, have tuition-free options available for the lowest-income students. Earlier this year, a handful of New Jersey schools announced their participation in a program that offers a debt-free education to 1,000 low-income students.