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March 26, 2021
For Immediate Release
New Jersey Council Of County Colleges Honors Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald For His Leadership On Community College Opportunity Grant (CGOG) Legislation
With inspiring stories from students around the state forming the centerpiece of a virtual celebration, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) honored Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) on Wednesday, March 24 for being the lead sponsor of legislation that made the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program a permanent avenue to financial aid for the most vulnerable students in the state.
Governor Murphy signed the bill (A4410/S2743) into law at a rare public event on February 26, punctuating his commitment to CCOG. The Governor initiated the program in his first budget for Fiscal Year 2019
The new law delineates language provided in the past two budgets that the CCOG provides a last-dollar scholarship to attend a Community College for individuals in households earning $65,000 adjusted gross income or less. CCOG has assisted more than 18,000 students last year, including recent high school graduates and working adults, to enroll in a Community College and to get on and to stay on a path to earning college degrees and credentials. CCOG expands economic opportunity while helping New Jersey to build a productive and innovative workforce that enables economic growth and recovery for the entire state.
“Majority Leader Greenwald sat down with Community College leaders and worked with us to establish the framework for the legislation that would make the program permanent,” said Aaron Fichtner, President of the NJCCC. “He understood the need to make the program accessible to as many students as possible and to ensure that it considers the challenges many of these students face. For example, it allows part-time students to take advantage of CCOG. So many of our students have multiple jobs and families to care for so it is impossible for them to maintain a full credit load,” Mr. Fichtner continued.
President Donald Borden of Camden County College, expressed pride that one of his county’s legislators led the charge on the legislation. “Majority Leader Greenwald has always been a strong supporter of our institution and of the New Jersey Community College sector. We are not surprised that he took on this challenge that will help so many students in every corner of our state.”
There were 17 students from 15 of the state’s Community Colleges who participated in this event during which they described the positive difference that the CCOG program has made in their lives. A representative from RWJ Barnabas Health (Lourdes Valdes, Director, Workforce Development and Grants) was also present and expressed her organization’s appreciation of Assemblyman Greenwald. Ms. Valdes described how Barnabas Health has a program in partnership with the New Jersey Council of County Colleges to get employees enrolled in degree programs at Community Colleges utilizing CCOG to help those employees enhance their career pathway and economic mobility within the organization.
Dr. Phil Linfante, Chairman of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, expressed “sincere thanks to Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, to Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Coughlin, to the 28 co-sponsors who supported the bill and of course, we thank Governor Murphy who initiated this transformative idea.”
About NJCCC: New Jersey’s 18 agile and innovative Community Colleges are prepared to lead in the response to and recovery from this public health and economic crisis and to secure a brighter future for all New Jerseyans. The New Jersey Council of County Colleges provides statewide leadership for the advancement of New Jersey Community Colleges, performs coordinating responsibilities as required by law, and coordinates statewide efforts to build a skilled workforce and improve student success. We encourage you to visit our website at www.njccc.org.