Almost $30 million in federal funding will soon be available to help New Jersey colleges and universities deal with the effects of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, state Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges said $28.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education, through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, will be awarded to the state’s public and public-mission private institutions that get state operating aid to help students overcome barriers and complete their degrees.

Bridges said this competitive grant challenge grant program will “help institutions develop system-wide reforms that pave the way for long term progress and achieving our goals.”

He said examples of how higher ed institutions might use the money could include “funding for student entrepreneurship programs to spur innovation right on our campuses, or imagine developing a program to ensure students from disadvantaged backgrounds get early exposure to college and ensure they succeed in their academic pursuits.”

He said this fits with New Jersey’s goal of having 65% of working age adults get a high quality degree or certificate by 2025.

He said another $1 million will be awarded to public colleges and universities to combat food insecurity.

Gov. Phil Murphy said the pandemic has placed enormous challenges on our institutions of higher learning and our students.

He said that now is not the time “to shrink away from the opportunities that await us on the other side of this pandemic, but rather to lean into the smart policies and key investments that will move us ever forward.”

Institutions of higher education will be able to to select from a series of interventions to help students, including:

  • Expanding opportunities for students to gain early college exposure
  • Improving college affordability
  • Fostering student success
  • Promoting safe and inclusive learning environments
  • Cultivating research, innovation and talent

Each college and university may apply for a maximum total grant award based on their full-time enrollment ($500,000 for small institutions, $1 million for medium institutions, and $1.5 million for large institutions). The final number of awards will be based on the quantity and quality of applications received.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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