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March 20, 2017

People are going to college for free. Here’s how

Education College

Content sponsored by RutgersNativeBadge2017

For many high school graduates, college isn’t feasible because of their family’s finances. Even those who have attended college can feel like they’ve ruined the rest of their lives with the burden of paying for an education. Considering the average monthly student loan payment between ages 20-30 is $351, chances are that you or someone you know is drowning in student loan debt and perhaps putting their life on hold because of it.

Rutgers University–Camden’s Bridging the Gap program is working toward bolstering students’ access to a college education by minimizing -- or even eradicating -- participants’ student loans. The program “closes the gap between federal and state sources of financial support and the balance of tuition and the general campus fee.”

Any student who has not attended college and is a resident of New Jersey is eligible to apply. And if your family’s total income is less than $100,000, you are automatically considered for the program when submitting an application. If your family’s income is less than $60,000, students are eligible for a full ride.

Sierra Neal is a freshman at Rutgers University–Camden and in the first class of Bridging the Gap participants. Neal aspires to earn a doctorate in psychology, with hopes of becoming a clinical psychologist. Thanks to Bridging the Gap, her aspirations are on track to becoming reality.

Rutgers-Camden/for PhillyVoice

Rutgers-Camden Student Sierra Neal

Neal shares, “It was such a huge relief to my parents for me to be enrolled in this program, and to have half of my tuition covered. Bridging the Gap has definitely helped me enjoy the most out of my college experience, by not stressing about how I was going to afford to pay for school.”

Neal’s brother is also enrolled in college, leaving Neal and her parents especially grateful to avoid the financial strain of multiple tuition expenses.

Students like Sierra Neal are encouraged to take advantage of the internship and
 job opportunities that arise from being situated in the vibrant urban centers of Philadelphia and Camden. Students can commute to campus or live in one of the three residence halls, each less than a ten-minute walk to any on-campus building. Rutgers–Camden is also a research-oriented university, making it a sensible option for students interested in gaining focused, hands-on experience.

“My favorite thing about Rutgers–Camden is all the opportunities offered here at this campus,” Neal remarks, “There are so many programs to get involved in and many ways to land jobs and internships.”

Neal appears to be thriving at Rutgers–Camden. She lives on campus and is a member of the university’s Psychology Club, offers campus tours as a Raptor Ambassador, and applied to be a Residential Advisor for the upcoming year.

If you or someone you know fits the qualifications for the Bridging the Gap Program, applications are being accepted now for the fall of 2017. You can apply here.