Newark Wants To Give 40 Students a Debt-Free College Education

The students will be attending a university that has earned some notable recognition across the state and nation. Saint Elizabeth is ranked number one in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Reports for “Top Performers for Social Mobility – Northeast Region” and was recently ranked third in the state for earnings outcomes for students three years after graduation by New Jersey Education to Earnings Data System. The university offers more than 40 undergraduate majors and minors, 14 master’s degrees, and two doctoral programs.

The program comes to a city where officials noted less than 16% of Newarkers, a majority Black city, hold a bachelor’s degree. The number follows a nationwide trend where fewer Black students hold a bachelor’s degree compared to white students.

In 2019, 29% of the Black population aged 25 to 29 held a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 45% of the white population in the same age range, according to Postsecondary National Policy Institute (PNPI), an organization that advocates for higher education policies to better serve students and families.

Many Black students who pursue a higher education have also taken on more debt linked to student loans. In the 2015-16 academic year, 71% of Black students took out federal student loans compared to 56% of white students. That same year, Black students took out larger federal loans on average ($11,140) than Hispanic ($10,500), Asian ($10,940), and American Indian/Alaska Native ($9,210).

Newark officials want to address those numbers through the newly launched Guaranteed Education program. The city will bear the cost of the selected students from Newark families for the four-year program. 

The grant represents “last dollar” funding which takes into account individual student’s federal, state and institutional financial assistance, and will focus on students entering the fields of education, nursing, psychology, and social work.

The pilot will be administered through Saint Elizabeth University’s Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program, with the students beginning their college journey at the university in June 2022.

“Saint Elizabeth University has a longstanding mission of providing an affordable, high-quality education to resolute learners from various backgrounds,” said Gary Crosby, president of Saint Elizabeth University. “We are very excited to partner with the City of Newark and Mayor Baraka in launching this important pilot program that will allow the university to further advance our mission. This is particularly important as many of our students return to their communities helping to improve the quality of life for their families and neighbors, as well as the state of New Jersey.”

“On behalf of Saint Elizabeth’s EOF program, we are honored and privileged to support this critical initiative focused on encouraging upward mobility opportunities among Newark residents,” said David Hill, director of Saint Elizabeth’s EOF program. “It is especially fitting for this innovative pilot to be administered by the City of Newark since the EOF program originated from the challenges Newark faced 55 years ago.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-04-01 03:19:59 -0700