Rutgers-Camden to offer free and discounted tuition to low-income students

 (NewsWorks file photo)

(NewsWorks file photo)

For low-income students enrolling in Rutgers University-Camden next year, tuition might be heavily discounted or even free, thanks to a new program called “Bridging the Gap.”

Through the program, the school will pay for all or part of a student’s tuition and campus fee after other federal and state aid is applied.

This year at Rutgers-Camden, tuition and the campus fee will run students about $13,500.

“It’s to really help the low-income first-generation students, and that is who we are in [Rutgers] Camden: 50 percent first-generation students who have no or just a little college education.” said Craig Westman, associate chancellor for enrollment management.

Westman said the program will help students avoid taking out too many loans and provide support to those also holding down jobs while in school.

“From our chancellor’s viewpoint, it’s really embracing who we are and trying to make a difference in the community that we serve,” he said.

For families making $60,000 or less per year, Rutgers will pay a student’s full tuition and campus fee after other aid is applied. For families making between $60,001 and $100,000, the university will cover half.

In-state undergraduate students will be able to enroll in the “Bridging the Gap” program when they fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Westman said the program is specifically beneficial to commuter students who are already trying to cut costs and attend college on a budget. More than 80 percent of Rutgers-Camden students are commuters.

“When you look at that, you’re really hitting the denominator for these students when it comes to affordability for their education,” he said. “You’re really hitting them where they live, so to speak.”

According to Westman, this won’t be a money-losing proposition for Rutgers, because an influx of students taking advantage of the program will mean more federal and state aid going to the school. He also said Rutgers will not cash in on the deal, since a growing student population would require more funding for on-campus student services.

The program will open to students entering in the fall semester of 2016.

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