The NJ STARS Program is an initiative created by the State of New Jersey that provides New Jersey's highest achieving students with free tuition at their home county college. Funding for the NJ STARS awards is dependent upon State appropriations.
The New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship program (NJ STARS) rewards high-achieving New Jersey high school graduates by providing scholarships to cover the cost of tuition for up to five (5) semesters of full-time study at their home county colleges. All fees, including books, are not included.
Potential NJ STARS students must meet all residency requirements at the time of high school graduation and upon county college enrollment. This means that a student and his/her parents must have been legal New Jersey residents for at least 12 consecutive months prior to high school graduation and at the time of county college enrollment. Eligible non-citizens granted permanent resident status or those permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to enter the United States for other than temporary reasons must have resided in New Jersey for at least 12 consecutive months after their status was determined to meet the residency requirement both at the time of high school graduation and for 12 months prior to county college enrollment.
Students are considered a resident of the county in which you can prove domicile. A driver's license, voter registration card or some other official documentation may be used.
Students previously denied financial aid assistance through the State of New Jersey due to parental residency are being afforded an opportunity to submit for HESAA’s consideration evidence establishing that they reside in New Jersey, notwithstanding the residency of their parent(s). Such evidence may include, but is not
1. Proof of graduation from a New Jersey high school;
2. A copy of your New Jersey resident income tax return;
3. A copy of your New Jersey driver’s license;
4. Evidence of home ownership or a long-term lease in New Jersey; and/or
5. Such documentation as may be deemed necessary by HESAA upon specific review of your application.
Any questions may be directed to HESAA’s Office of Grants & Scholarships at (609) 588-3300 ext. 1404 Students wishing to file an appeal can register at njgrants.org and upload their documents to “Electronic Document Collection” and follow the step-by-step instructions. Any questions regarding this process can be directed to (609) 588-3300 ext. 1404.
- Under the amended statute, are NJ STARS students considered NJ residents for the purpose of the NJ STARS program if their parents were transferred to a military installation located in New Jersey?
Yes. A dependent child of a parent who has been transferred to a military installation located in New Jersey is considered a New Jersey resident for the purposes of qualifying for an NJ STARS award.
The student must graduate in the top 15.0% of their high school class. The student also needs to self- identify at the county college. Ocean County College requires the completion of a NJ STARS Self-Identification Form and Verification Application by all NJ STARs candidates.
Potential NJ STARS eligibility for small graduating classes is shown below.
- Class size of 1 – not eligible
- Class size of 2 – 6 - #1 student is potentially NJ STARS-eligible
- Class size of 7 or greater – top 15.0% of students are potentially NJ STARS-eligible
Students who graduated from an adult regional high school in the top 15.0% may be eligible for NJ STARS. Students planning to attend Ocean County College can contact the Financial Aid Office to find out what is needed to determine eligibility at 732-255-0400 ext. 7303 or email@example.com.
Home-schooled students are not eligible for NJ STARS as this program is based upon class ranking. However, if the student’s school is considered part of the main school district which counts the homeschool ranking as part of their decision of ranking, the homeschooled student may be eligible to participate in the NJ STARS Program of his or her graduating class. Students must see their NJ STARS Advisor to determine their eligibility.
The NJ STARS scholarship is designed to cover tuition not covered by other federal/state grants (i.e. Pell, FSEOG, TAG, and GUS) and public/private scholarships. Students must file the FAFSA to determine eligibility for any other types of grant assistance.
Federal/state grants and public/private scholarships for which a student is eligible must be applied first to the cost of tuition. If all grants or scholarships do not cover the cost of tuition, NJ STARS will be applied to the tuition balance. Fees and books are the responsibility of the student.
Note: Students can utilize a scholarship for fees, books, or other educational expenses if the scholarship specifically states “educational expenses" and does not state “tuition”.
All males ages 18-25 and living in the U.S. must register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Selective Service will accept late registrations prior to their 26th birthday. You may be denied Financial Aid benefits or a job if you have not registered. To register with Selective Service go to SSS.gov or contact Ocean County College’s Financial Aid Department at 732-.255-0310 to assist you.
Yes. NJ STARS recipients can qualify for the Federal Stafford Loan programs. NJ STARS parents may qualify to borrow from the State's NJCLASS program or the Federal PLUS loan program. Students are not required to take out a loan. It is optional. More information about these financial aid loan programs is available in the county college Financial Aid Office. Ocean County College’s Financial Office is available at 732-255-0310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Is there an opportunity to utilize private scholarships for fees, books or other educational expenses?
A private scholarship can be utilized for fees, books, and other educational expenses if the scholarship states that the monies can be applied towards “educational expenses” and does not state that the monies must be applied towards “tuition”.
- What happens if a student enrolls in another college and then transfers to the county college under the NJ STARS Program?
Students that have attended another college or university for up to four semesters may be eligible to register at the county college under the NJ STARS Scholarship. Students who live in Ocean County and were eligible for NJ STARS upon high school graduation can contact the NJ STARS Coordinator at 732-255-0400 ext. 2000 to assess eligibility.
- Pursuant to statute, students must demonstrate college readiness. How is college readiness initially determined?
Prior to Spring 2017 high school graduates:
- SAT: 540 Critical Reading; 530 Math
Requried test scores for students who graduate in Spring 2017 and beyond:
- SAT Score Evidenced Based Reading and Writing 480; Math 500
- PARCC-Grade 11: English Language Arts/Literacy 4+; Algebra 4+
If you do not have these scores; schedule an appointment to take the Accuplacer Test at OCC by visiting: go.ocean.edu/test.
Pursuant to statute, the test must be administered by the county college in the county in which the student’s school district is located. A county college may enter into an agreement with the school district to administer the test at the high school or other selected site within the district.
A county college is responsible for notifying any student who does not achieve the required scores on the Accuplacer that the student requires remediation prior to pursuing county college coursework for credit under the NJ STARS Program. It is the student’s responsibility to address the identified deficiencies no later than September 1st of the year following high school graduation.
- A potential NJ STARS student takes the accuplacer while enrolled in high school, but does not demonstrate college readiness by attaining the required scores. What steps may be taken to address the deficiencies identified?
A student has one year from September 1st following high school graduation to address any deficiencies identified and demonstrate college readiness by successfully completing college-level Math/English at the college of the student’s choice.
- If a NJ STARS student takes developmental English/Math and passes the courses, can the student register for college-level English/Math without taking the Accuplacer again?
Yes. As noted above in the previous question, any academic deficiencies identified by the Accuplacer can be addressed by successfully completing the required developmental courses. Note: Any developmental coursework must be completed before NJ STARS funding can be received.
- If a NJ STARS eligible student postpones college attendance for one year, does the student have an additional year to determine initial college readiness?
No. Pursuant to statute, students must demonstrate college readiness no later than September 1st of the year following high school graduation. If the student has not demonstrated college readiness at the end of the one-year period, the student loses NJ STARS eligibility
- If a student enrolls at the county college and successfully completes the developmental courses required to address any academic deficiencies by September 1st of the year following high school graduation, can the student "stop out" and then enroll in a subsequent semester as an NJ STARS student?
Yes. By statute, ". . . if during or at the end of the one-year period the student demonstrates the required ability, then the student shall be eligible for an NJ STARS scholarship for five semesters.”
However, a student must enroll full-time in an associate degree program at the home county college no later than the fifth semester following high school graduation to retain NJ STARS eligibility.
As a reminder, NJ STARS eligibility is “activated” during the semester in which the student enrolls full- time (at least 12 college-level credits). The student must maintain continuous full-time enrollment in all subsequent semesters to retain NJ STARS eligibility.
- An NJ STARS student demonstrates college readiness and enrolls for 12 college-level credits. The student subsequently changes majors and is required to take one or more developmental courses to demonstrate readiness for a particular program of study. Does the student lose NJ STARS eligibility?
No. The student could take the required developmental courses during the summer, fall or spring semester at the student’s expense. If taken during the fall or spring semester, the student must also enroll for at least 12 college-level credits to retain NJ STARS eligibility.
- According to the NJ STARS legislation, a student must attend the county college in which the student resides. What if the home county college does not offer the program/major the student chooses to study?
Students who wish to study a curriculum not offered or oversubscribed at the county college in which they reside may be authorized to attend another county college and still remain eligible for NJ STARS. If the student is an Ocean County resident, please contact Ocean County College’s Records and Registration Office at 732-255-0304 or email@example.com.
- Some county colleges offer joint associate degrees with other New Jersey institutions. The degree is awarded by both institutions, but tuition for credits taken at the other institution is paid directly to that institution. Does the NJ STARS Program cover this?
To receive NJ STARS funds, students must be enrolled full-time in an associate degree program at their home county college and must be paying tuition directly to that county college. In the situation above, the student would not be eligible to receive NJ STARS funding, as the student is not enrolled full-time at the county college and is not paying tuition directly to the county college.
However, a county college may enter into a consortium agreement with another New Jersey institution. Under such an agreement, students may take courses at a New Jersey institution other than the county college and have those courses count toward the degree or certificate at the county college. For State grant purposes, the consortium agreement must meet Federal Student Aid (FSA) standards and comply with State requirements. Specifically, FSA requires the following information be included in all agreements:
- the institution that will grant the degree or certificate;
- the student’s tuition, costs at each institution;
- the student’s enrollment status at each institution;
- the institution that will be responsible for disbursing aid and monitoring student eligibility; and
- the procedures for calculating awards, disbursing aid, monitoring satisfactory progress and other student eligibility requirements, keeping records, and returning funds in the event the student withdraws;
HESAA requires the county college, as the home institution, to:
- calculate the NJ STARS award;*
- disburse aid;
- monitor satisfactory academic progress and other student eligibility requirements;
- keep records;
- return any funds due HESAA;
- certify the student is enrolled full-time; and
- pay the host institution directly for charges incurred by NJ STARS students.
*If the tuition and fees charged by the host institution exceed those charged at the county college, the charges reported on the NJ STARS roster must be calculated as if all credits were taken at the county college. As a reminder, up to 18 credits are covered for NJ STARS. Any balance due the host institution that is not covered by the NJ STARS award must be paid by the student or out of other aid.
The NJ STARS Program will cover full-time (at least 12 college-level credits) tuition for up to 18 college-level credits per semester excluding summer. However, if the student is able to complete a degree program in the final semester of funding, NJ STARS student may attend part-time.
In order to maintain NJ STARS eligibility, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, maintain continuous full-time enrollment (12 or more college-level credits) and file the FAFSA by the deadline date every year.
If the student is able to complete a degree program in the final semester of funding, NJ STARS student may attend part-time.
- Is an NJ STARS student considered to have met the continuous full-time enrollment requirement of the NJ STARS Program if the student enrolls full-time and then drops below full-time status after the county college has reported the student's NJ STARS status to the state?
Yes. If a student drops below full-time status after enrollment is reported, the student retains program eligibility for the subsequent semester. The semester in which the student dropped below full-time status after the reporting certified counts as one of the five semesters of NJ STARS eligibility.
Prior to the beginning of the third semester, students will be required to achieve a 3.0 GPA in order to maintain NJ STARS eligibility. Students who fall below a 3.0 will be given the opportunity to improve their GPA. Under the NJ STARS legislation, these students are also required to enroll in an enrichment course. At Ocean County College the enrichment course required is "Student Success" (Course code ACAD-155).
If a student is dismissed from the county college for any reasons, that student is no longer eligible for a scholarship under this program and may be required to repay the NJ STARS award for the semester in which the dismissal took place.