State awards nearly $30 million in federal funding to area colleges

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges announced in July the awardees of nearly $30 million in federal funding that will be distributed to New Jersey institutions of higher education to support the core priorities of the “State Plan for Higher Education” and address the impacts of COVID-19 on postsecondary students.

Approximately $28.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education, through the second round of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funding, will be awarded to 35 public and public-mission private institutions that receive state operating aid. These institutions will implement vetted best practices that increase college completion, address barriers to student success and develop sustainable systemic reforms. In addition, more than $1 million will be awarded to 11 public institutions to combat food insecurity among students. 

“Our institutions of higher education have provided a high-quality of education to our students throughout the pandemic, despite challenging circumstances,” Murphy said. “Supporting our institutions will continue to be a priority as they work to provide an equitable educational experience for students, prepare them for the jobs of the future and meet challenges ahead.”

“Through this critical federal funding, New Jersey is prioritizing students’ needs and ensuring our workforce will be ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s post-pandemic economy,” Bridges said. “We appreciate that institutions are committing to this challenge and look forward to learning from the innovative best practices implemented, as we strive to meet the state’s goal of 65 percent of residents earning a high-quality credential by 2025.”

“Worrying about where your next meal will come from should not be part of the daily challenges that academics and extracurricular activities present to students,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, who represents New Jersey’s 27th Legislative District. “This funding will ease the worries of students and their families, and work towards mitigating food insecurity on college campuses.” 

A total of 35 institutions will be receiving $28.5 million in funding to support the launch of the “Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge,” a competitive grant program to implement best practices and develop sustainable systemwide reforms as the state builds long-term resiliency. 

The following institutions in Essex County will receive OMIC grant monies: Montclair State University will receive $1,310,500, New Jersey Institute of Technology will receive $1,401,884, Rutgers University–Newark will receive $1,500,000, Essex County College will receive $1,000,000, Bloomfield College will receive $500,000 and Seton Hall University will receive $1,495,190.

More than $1 million in funding is supporting the goals of the Hunger-Free Campus Act, signed by Murphy in 2019 to establish a grant program to address food insecurity among students enrolled at public institutions. Funding is only available to public institutions that received “Hunger-Free Campus” designation for meeting all requirements during the 2020-21 academic year. 

MSU and Rutgers–Newark will each receive $100,000 from the HFCA grant monies.

Additional institutions may not have received funding but obtained the “Hunger-Free Campus” designation for academic year 2020-21. 

The number of OMIC and HFCA awards were based on the quantity and quality of applications received.