TRENTON, NJ — Some county college students around the state could attend classes in 2019 for free, under a pilot program launched by the Murphy administration.

The Community College Innovation Challenge is the first phase of the governor’s initiative to provide two years of community college at no charge to students across the state. Now the state’s 19 community colleges have until August 31 to apply for up to $20 million in Community College Opportunity Grant awards. 

Once county colleges are accepted into the program, students with an adjusted annual gross income between $0 and $45,000 — and enrolled to take classes worth six or more credits in the spring 2019 semester — will be eligible to have their tuition covered with the new grant. The grants will cover all costs after any other federal or state grant aid is applied.

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Colleges will be accepted into the program based on the colleges’ plans for outreach to and support for students, how their cost projections fit within statewide funding constraints and geographic diversity.

Each college that submits an application will also be eligible be to receive a capacity building grant of at least $250,000 to plan for subsequent phases of the program.