Families with adjusted gross incomes of between $60,000 and $100,000 are eligible for the "Bridging the Gap" program.

Gloucester Township, NJ -- Camden County College and Rutgers University-Camden have entered into an agreement that will allow income-eligible students to graduate from college with little or no debt, county officials announced on Wednesday.

Officials say the “Bridging the Gap” program is the only one of its kind in the state available to community college students.

Students who earn their associate’s degree from Camden County College and are transferring to Rutgers University-Camden are eligible for the program. 

Families with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $60,000 or less will receive a grant covering all of their tuition and the general campus fee not already covered by federal and/or state grants. 

Families with an AGI of $60,001 to $100,000 will receive a grant covering 50% of their remaining tuition and the general campus fee after any other need-based federal and/or state grants are applied.

“This agreement is redefining higher education by making college degrees more attainable for the masses,” Camden County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez said. “Providing Camden County College students with this affordable option will create a better workforce for South Jersey and a stronger economic engine for the state.”

Craig Westman, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management at Rutgers University–Camden, says “Bridging the Gap” was created to allow students to begin their careers and advance their lives without long-term debt.

“By some estimates, the United States carries more than $1.3 trillion in student debt,” Westman said. “By removing in some cases, and dramatically lowering in others, the debt burden for some of our students, we are creating opportunities for students to access their futures, and for our regional economy to realize the benefits of its investment in supporting public higher education in a timelier manner. It is our responsibility as leaders in higher education to create opportunities for students to launch their lives without the burden of debt loads.”

“Our program offers a pathway to achieve a Rutgers degree regardless of socioeconomic status,” Rutgers University-Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon said. “This is the historical promise of the American higher education system, and it is our commitment here at Rutgers University–Camden to make certain that we prepare New Jerseyans for success and without serious debt.”

Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01) called “Bridging the Gap” a game-changer for students.

“College costs and student loan debts are out of control. I recently hosted a college affordability roundtable to hear directly from families and help find solutions to fight for in Washington. Thankfully, our local colleges are taking real action to address the issue,” Norcross said. “Bridging the gap is a game-changer for South Jersey’s students who want quality, affordable education options close to home, and I applaud Camden County College and Rutgers University-Camden for making it a reality.”

In the fall of last year, Camden County College implemented the “Rutgers at CCC” program that allows students to earn a two-year associates degree at Camden County College, then transfer seamlessly to over 40 programs at Rutgers-Camden for a four-year degree. 

It also offers students the choice of completing their coursework at Rutgers-Camden or remaining at Camden County College. 

The program currently has 160 students enrolled, and has already allowed students to save an average of $20,000 in tuition costs, according to officials.

“It’s a nice deal. It’s a very reasonable price tag for a four-year bachelor’s program,” Camden County College President Don Borden said. “We’re opening the door to students with financial issues and helping them out, and providing a portal of opportunity for them."

(original article)