Free Tuition is in the Stars!


NJ STARS is a scholarship program exclusively for New Jersey residents that covers the cost of tuition at New Jersey's 19 community colleges.

Students who rank in the top 15 percent of their high school class at the end of either junior or senior year may be eligible.

Students must complete a rigorous series of high school courses as a first step toward eligibility, as determined by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education in consultation with the New Jersey Commissioner of Education.

Students must take at least 12 college credits per semester and will be allowed to take up to 18 credits each semester if they are able to handle the course load and wish to accelerate their graduation.

Students will be permitted to use summer sessions as part of their five semesters of eligibility, depending on state appropriation.

Students will be permitted to take fewer than 12 credits in their final semester if they need fewer than 12 credits to graduate (effective for Spring 2009 and up NJ STARS enrollees).

Students have five (5) semesters of eligibility for NJ STARS.

Students majoring in areas that require an additional 6th semester (nursing and engineering only) will be able to retain their eligibility for NJ STARS II. However, those students will have to pay for the additional semester at the community college.

Effective for students who graduate high school in Spring 2017 and beyond, students who score 450 or better on the Evidence-based Reading and Writing (ERW) and 500 or better on the Math portions of the SAT are considered college- ready. Also effective for students who graduate high school in Spring 2017 and beyond, students who score a 4 or 5 on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) English Language Arts/Literacy Grade 11 exam and a 4 or 5 on the PARCC Algebra II exam are considered college-ready. Students who do not take the SAT or achieve the required PARCC test scores will have to take a college placement test selected by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges when they receive their conditional NJ STARS eligibility letter from the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. Community colleges will administer the test and may create partnerships with districts to have on-site testing as well.

Students who do not achieve the required placement test scores will be notified by the college that they are currently in need of developmental courses prior to pursuing college course work through the NJ STARS program. Students will be able to take appropriate courses while still in high school to improve their skills, or they can attend developmental courses at the community college while enrolled in high school.

Students who graduate from high school and still need developmental course work will be given up to one year at their own cost or using other non-STARS funds to gain the skills they need to be college ready. They will not be considered NJ STARS scholars until they meet the requirement, but they will still have five semesters of eligibility upon meeting the requirements during that year. Students must complete all developmental courses by September 1st of the year following high school graduation.

Students who have earned college credits during high school will be able to submit those credits for consideration to the community college, and upon meeting the established criteria should have those credits applied to their degree. Those students who have earned an associate degree with a 3.25 grade point average or better while enrolled in high school will be eligible to apply directly to a senior New Jersey public college or university for inclusion in NJ STARS II.

Dependent students of military families assigned to a military base and whose parents have established New Jersey as their state of residence will be eligible for NJ STARS as long as all other conditions are met.

Students must earn a 3.25 cumulative grade point average upon graduation from community college to be eligible for NJ STARS II.

Students who meet the top 15 percent requirement must first apply for all other federal and state financial aid available to them by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually within New Jersey's deadline. If a student receives financial aid, NJ STARS will cover the remaining cost of tuition. If a student is not eligible for financial aid, NJ STARS will cover the entire cost of tuition.

NJ STARS students must be enrolled in an associate degree program at a New Jersey community college.

NJ STARS students must maintain continuous full-time enrollment at a New Jersey community college, unless the student is on approved medical leave or is on active military duty.

NJ STARS students must have a 3.0 or better grade point average moving from freshmen to sophomore years to be eligible for scholarship renewal for the second year.

For more information about NJ STARS and other state-sponsored scholarships and financial aid programs, visit the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.


Nadia Nieves


“NJ STARS gave me the opportunity to take control of my own future and improve myself through higher education. This scholarship helped me to achieve goals that would have otherwise been much more difficult to obtain. The NJ Stars program increased my appreciation for education, and also the importance of staying motivated to get to where I want to be. As a graduate school student I continue to experience the positive effects of being in this program, and I couldn't be more grateful to have the opportunity to have been able to save up for my graduate education.”

John Neckonchuk


“While in high school, amidst the usual uncertainty and anxiety that came with one's senior year, I remember being more preoccupied with the thought of how to pay for my higher education rather than from which institution I would receive it. Then, by chance, I learned about NJ STARS during my senior year. I attended my local community college and earned a perfect 4.0 GPA and an associate degree while working full-time. From there, I transferred top a New Jersey university and earned NJ STARS II. I continued as a political science major with a minor in national security. After graduating with a 4.0 GPA and my bachelor’s degree, I was accepted to law school, where I am currently in the middle of my second year. All of these progressions in my life thus far were entirely sparked by the NJ STARS program, which alleviated much of my financial stress and enabled me to focus my efforts on my academics.”

Jilian McLeer


“The NJ STARS program was instrumental in providing me with tremendous advantages as I began my college career. It gave me an opportunity to pursue a great education. Unlike my peers at larger universities, I had the opportunity to interact closely with my professors and other leaders on campus and in the community while attending my local community college, and through this to immerse myself in campus leadership activities that boosted my confidence as well as my experience. NJ STARS also gave me a tremendous financial advantage. This became more and more evident to me as I transferred to a New Jersey four-year college and graduated with very little college debt. I would not be in law school today if I hadn’t been able to save money thanks to NJ STARS. I am proud to say that I am an NJ STARS alumna and will be forever thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in the program.”

Yisela Barragan


“I graduated from community college in 2010 and from a New Jersey state college in 2012, all thanks to the New Jersey STARS program. The program allowed me to focus on my studies and my family, not on loans or payments. If it wasn’t for this program I wouldn’t have had the chance to represent college students as a statewide NJ STARS Student Ambassador. The New Jersey STARS program allowed me to get the chance to be more than just a student but someone fighting for education, someone apart of something bigger. And I am proud to be a NJ STARS student.”