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October 25, 2008 - NJ STARS program to be amended

On Thursday, the New Jersey State Assembly Higher Education Committee approved Assembly Bill No. 3373, which will make some major changes to the NJ STARS and NJ STARS II Programs. The changes are expected to save the state several million dollars per year. Some of the major changes include:

NJ STARS

Students will have to graduate in the top 15% of their class, instead of the current 20%.

If a parent or guardian has been assigned to a military base in New Jersey, their dependent children will be considered state residents for the NJ STARS and NJ STARS II programs.

Once notified of conditional eligibility, students will be required to pass a college placement test which will determine the student's readiness. If the student doesn't pass, they will need to address the deficiencies during senior year to be eligible for the NJ STARS. If they fail to do so, they will be given until Sept 1 of the following year to demonstrate the necessary skills or lose eligibility.

Going forward, students will be able to take up to 18 credits per semester, up from 15. Also, should they need fewer than 12 credits in their final semester, this will now be allowed under the new bill. There will also be a procedure implemmented to allow students to get credit for college credits earned while still in high school.

NJ STARS II

Under the current law, NJ STARS graduates must have a 3.0 GPA to be eligible for NJ STARS II. Under the new law, the requirement will go to 3.25 GPA.

Family income will now need to be under $250,000 to be eligible.

Going forward, the NJ STARS II program will only cover tuition, except for students eligible for a Tuition Aid Grant. Tuition and fees will be covered for these students.

The scholarship amount will now depend on the student's GPA, as well. Students who maintained a GPA greater than 3.25 and less than 3.50 will be eligible for a scholarship of up to $3,000 per semester; students who maintained a cumulative GPA equal to or greater than 3.50, will be eligible for a scholarship of up to $3,500 per semester. For senior year eligibility, the amount awarded will depend on the student's GPA during the third year.

The bill still needs to be passed by the state assembly and signed by Governor Corzine.

May 1, 2008 - House and Senate Pass Education Bill, Send it to the President

This week the House and Senate passed the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 and sent it to the White House where the President is expected to sign it into law. Some of the highlights of the legislation are:

There will be an increase of $2,000 to the maximum annual unsubsidized Stafford loan amounts that may be provided to undergraduate students under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program. The aggregate limit on such loans will be raised to $31,000 for dependent undergraduates and $57,500 for independent undergraduates.

Parents who take advantage of the Federal PLUS Loans under the FFEL program will have the option to defer loan principal repayment for up to six months after the students for whom such loans are borrowed cease to carry at least one-half the normal full-time academic workload.

Borrowers of PLUS FFELs, who are no more than 180 days delinquent on their home mortgages, and no more than 89 days delinquent on the repayment of any other debt, who normally would be ineligible for the loans due to their adverse credit history will be able to meet a specified extenuating circumstances requirement making them eligible for the loans. This section will cover loans made between July 2008 and June 2009.

Certain guaranty agencies may be designated as lenders-of-last-resort and funds appropriated to them.

The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on April 30 and the House by a vote of 388-21 on May 1.

January 31, 2008 - Cornell University to Eliminate Loans for Students with Family Incomes Below $75,000

Cornell University announced today that it would be implementing a new financial aid program starting next year that would eliminate need-based loans for all students with a family income below $75,000. Additionally, those with family incomes between $75,000 and $120,000 would have their need-based loans capped at $3,000 per year.

The program will ramp up over two years..in 2008-09 loan elimination will be limited to incomes below $60,000 and in 2009-10 will include those up to $75,000.


January 31, 2008 - Northwestern University to Eliminate Loans for Neediest Students

Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, announced today that beginning in the fall of 2008, they would be eliminating loans from the financial aid packages of the neediest students. Both new and returning students who qualify will receive grants in place of student loans. The University said that it was intentionally tying the program to financial need rather than family income.

All undergrads who are taking out subsidized Stafford Loans or Perkins Loans will have that total capped at $20,000 over the four years. You can get more information about the program at http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2008/01/noloanpolicy.html.


January 30, 2008 - College of the Holy Cross to Offer Free Tuition to Qualified Worcester Residents

Qualified in this case means those students with a family income below $50,000 per year. The program will begin with the 2008-09 academic year. You can read more about the Holy Cross program at http://www.holycross.edu/publicaffairs/press_releases/2007-2008/08_01_30.


January 18, 2008 - Arkansas Aspiring Scholars Matching Grant

Arkansas Governor, Mike Beebe, with members of the Arkansas 529 Committee and the Aspiring Scholars Advisory Committee, announced a new college savings program, the Aspiring Scholars Matching Grant. The Grant will provide matching funds in the state's 529 plan for qualifying families. To qualify, The account holder and the beneficiary must be Arkansas residents. Families with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $60,000 or under will qualify for a one to one match up to $500 per year. Those with an AGI of $30,000 or below will qualify for a two to one match up to $500. The grant program was funded under ACT 597 of 2007 and there has been $250,000 set aside for the first two years of the program and will be granted based on need following closure of the application period April 30.


January 2, 2008 - University of Oregon presents PathwayOregon

The University of Oregon announced today that starting in September, 2008, all incoming Oregonian freshmen who qualify for Pell Grants will receive aid packages that will cover the total cost of their tuition and fees. The program, called PathwayOregon, will pick up whatever costs aren't covered by federal and state aid.

Students qualifying for PathwayOregon will also be provided with academic support. Some students may also qualify for room and board.

Requirements include

  • Oregon students must be eligible for the Pell Grants
  • Students must have their admissions applications in by January 15
  • have the FAFSA into the University by March 1
  • students must apply for one of two University scholarships
  • as well as other requirements.
  • /ul> You can read more about PathwayOregon at http://www.uoregon.edu/~pathway/


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