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NJ STARS Freshmen Enrollment Jumps 50 percent Statewide

December 9, 2005

NJ STARS Freshmen Enrollment Jumps 50 percent Statewide

TRENTON, N.J.-Statewide enrollment of New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Rewards Scholarship (NJ STARS) freshmen at New Jersey's 19 community colleges is up 50 percent compared to last year, according to a recent survey released today by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges.

This fall, 1,731 NJ STARS freshmen enrolled in New Jersey’s community colleges. In fall 2004, the first year of the program, 1,157 NJ STARS freshmen enrolled.

In addition, 753 NJ STARS students from fall 2004 have returned to their local community college this year for their sophomore year.
In total, 2,484 NJ STARS students are attending community colleges this fall.

“In only its second year of existence, the NJ STARS program is having a tremendously positive impact on the lives of thousands of the state’s top high school graduates,” said Council President Dr. Lawrence A. Nespoli. “We are delighted that so many of the state’s best and brightest are choosing to stay in New Jersey to pursue their college education.”

“I authored the legislation creating the NJ STARS program because I felt that it was important to recognize the academic achievements of the State’s exceptional students,” said Senator Wayne R. Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “All too often students are given all kinds of scholarships and rewards for athletic ability, but those who consistently earn good grades receive nothing more than a pat on the back. I want this program to serve as an incentive for our students to show them that putting in the time and effort to earn good grades will not go unnoticed in New Jersey; any student willing to work hard in school will be able to receive a college education.”

Most of the NJ STARS students are receiving full or partial NJ STARS scholarships. Some may not be receiving the scholarship because they fully qualify for other financial aid.

“The New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) applies all other need- and merit-based financial aid to NJ STARS students first,” Nespoli said. “This means that if an NJ STARS eligible student qualifies for full need-based financial aid, he or she will not need NJ STARS money, since tuition and fees are already paid for.”

NJ STARS is the first state-sponsored, merit-based scholarship program in the country that covers the cost of tuition and approved fees at community colleges. Students who graduate in the top 20 percent of their high school class are eligible. The scholarship covers up to five semesters of tuition and approved fees for full-time students. To receive the scholarship in their sophomore year at a community college, students must finish their freshman year with a 3.0 grade point average.

In addition to NJ STARS enrollments, total full-time college credit enrollment at New Jersey’s community colleges is up 2.4 percent from 72,468 in fall 2004 to 74,242 this year. Part-time credit enrollment is down slightly by 1.1 percent, from 78,556 in fall 2004 to 77,691 this year. In total, 151,933 students are taking college-credit courses at New Jersey community colleges this fall – the largest credit enrollment ever at New Jersey’s community colleges.

In addition to credit enrollments, community colleges enroll 125,000 students in noncredit courses in professional and personal skills development each year, plus 55,000 members of New Jersey’s workforce in customized training programs.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is the voice of the community college sector before the state legislature and other branches of government.