Higher Ed panel revises college scholarship program

TRENTON – The Assembly Higher Education Committee on Monday voted unanimously to release a bill (A4283) that would revise the popular NJ STARS and NJSTARS II programs that provide scholarships to individuals attending colleges.

Fearing the program may become the victim of future budget cuts, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt said the revisions are a “proactive” step to keep the program in place for future students.

The changes in the bill state that the money for NJ STARS could only be used for tuition, and not fees or other items. Also, an annual recruitment day by colleges must be held as well to find students who may be eligible for the scholarship.

The major revisions to NJSTARS II would scale back the amount of a scholarship award from $3,000 and $3,500 (the award would be dependent on the student’s high school GPA) to $1,250. Students would need to maintain a minimum  3.25 grade point average in community college to receive the award.

Also, the state would provide $2,500 annual scholarships to students who transfer to four-year colleges in their junior and senior years, if they maintain a 3.25 grade point average.

Previously, the state would pick up half the amount.

Also, NJSTARS II recipients could attend independent colleges instead of state institutions, as current restrictions mandate.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey, and Rutgers University all support the bill

In the 2009-10 academic years, some 3,700 community college students received STARS scholarships.

Sen. Fred Madden, (D-4), Turnersville, called for grandfathering current students receiving STARS so they don’t lose money in the event of budget cuts.

Lampitt said she would be happy to work with him on making that happen.

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Higher Ed panel revises college scholarship program