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By Melissa Morgan
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – More than 250 students are attending Camden County College tuition-free this semester under a New Jersey pilot program, a college official said recently.

Cara Pitone-Lawson works in Taft Hall. By Melissa Morgan, CCC Journalism Program

Camden County College received a $250,000 grant in the Community College Innovation Challenge to help pay tuition and fees for financially and academically eligible students for the spring 2019 semester. Similar grants were intended for all 19 community colleges in New Jersey but only 13 received one.

The more than 250 Camden County College students benefiting from the grant received the aid after submitting the traditional financial aid application. The program provides the difference between the cost of tuition and the amount of money the student receives from other financial aid.

“There were very simple criteria,” said Cara Pitone-Lawton, a student success coach at Camden County College. “The student has to have an adjusted gross income of under $45,000. So if they’re an independent student for financial aid purposes, that would mean just themselves or their spouse. If they’re a dependent student, it would be looking at household income with the stability of their parents’ income.”

The student must have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher and must finish with a grade of A, B or C in two-thirds of their courses.

The program covers 60 credits.

It is unknown if Camden County College will receive a similar grant for the fall 2019 semester but Pitone-Lawton is optimistic.

“There was a large part of money that the state designated, but for better or worse, not that much of that money was used,” she said. “I believe our numbers are very similar to what the other 12 community colleges were able to spend, so we’re very hopeful that they’ll continue to offer it. But … we have to wait for the state to determine that.”

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