By: Cathy Poston
Back in 2004, then Gov. James McGreevey started the NJ Stars program for students graduating high school. The top 20 percent of the graduating class are provided with free tuition and fees at any NJ community college. The program itself covers up to 5 semesters of tuition as long as the student takes 12 credits each semester and retains a 3.0 gpa through the first year to get the scholarship renewed the second year. Students must also apply for federal financial aid to help offset any fees. The program has changed since it’s start in 2004. Now in 2010, the program only covers the top 15 percent of a graduating class, and students can take up to 18 credits each semesters. Currently there are about 500 stars students at CCC.
There are two particular advisors that work with the NJ Stars program, Marie Cifelli and Lillie Howard. Marie Cifelli has been with CCC for roughly 20 years and Lillie Howard for roughly 10 years. Both women are very knowledgeable about the Stars program but also about all of the programs offered at CCC. Stars students are seen by appointment only, but when Marie and Lillie do not have appointments scheduled, they both do general advising.