Governor Murphy Announces “Garden State Guarantee” Program at William Paterson University


Courtesy of Bill Blanchard

Sophie Gritsch, Staff Writer

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy visited William Paterson University on Feb. 26 to announce his new initiative, the “Garden State Guarantee.”

The Garden State Guarantee would invest $50 million in 13 campuses of New Jersey’s four-year public universities and colleges. Under the Guarantee, students from households with an annual Adjusted Gross Income of less than $65,000 would be eligible to receive this aid.

At a William Paterson student roundtable event, joined by university President Richard J. Helldobler, Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and students, Governor Murphy spoke about the program.

Qualifying students would have their first two years at a public college or university paid for, with the state paying any remaining tuition costs after the student’s state and federal grants are expended. Transfer students from community colleges could also potentially benefit from total tuition and fee coverage if they graduate on time.

The Guarantee would be the first of its kind in the nation and is the largest state investment in over a decade dedicated to making college more affordable for students. Said Governor Murphy, “After more than a decade of decreased state investments in higher education, our Administration’s innovative plan creates a path for broader college affordability.”

William Paterson’s own tuition-assistance program, Pledge 4 Success, was announced in May of 2019. This program also covers a student’s remaining tuition costs after state and federal aid has been applied.

President Helldobler said regarding the Garden State Guarantee that “[we] are pleased that William Paterson’s innovative Pledge 4 Success Program can be a model statewide for supporting students from low-income families in their pursuit of a life-changing college degree… In just its first year, Pledge 4 Success has helped hundreds of students avoid additional student loan debt and furthered William Paterson’s commitment to making a quality, affordable education available to more New Jersey students. We are grateful for Gov. Murphy’s support for William Paterson and for his recognition of the role higher education must play in creating a better future for everyone in New Jersey.”

Governor Murphy initially proposed the Guarantee at his third state budget address, at the Statehouse in Trenton on Feb. 25.

The program will complement existing state financial aid programs, such as the Community College Opportunity Grant program, Tuition Aid Grants, New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarships and the Educational Opportunity Fund program. The implementation of the Garden State Guarantee, along with these existing programs, aims to support low-income students and students of color in order to make higher education as affordable as possible for these underrepresented communities.

“This is a big day for us. We come at this with… a mindset that accessibility and affordability of a higher education degree, whether it be an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or terminal, or any combination of that, is something that we can’t put enough energy in to,” said Governor Murphy.

Secretary Ellis hopes that this Guarantee will send a clear message to New Jersey students: “You can afford to go to college and earn a degree.”