The deadline to apply for a program that promises free or heavily discounted tuition for certain students is less than 3 months away.

Public colleges and universities across New Jersey updated their websites this month and sent out alerts to remind everyone of their participation in Garden State Guarantee, which begins with the 2022-2023 academic year.

Through the financial aid program, a student can earn up to four semesters of free tuition at any of New Jersey's four-year public schools, for their third and fourth years of study, depending on their family's income.

New Jersey residents who have an annual adjusted gross income up to $65,000 will pay a net price of $0 for tuition and fees, and students who have AGIs between $65,001 and $80,000 will pay no more than $7,500 for tuition and fees.

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Students must be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credits per semester), according to the Governor's Office. GSG is intended to limit the amount of debt that students must borrow in order to get a higher education.

“The Garden State Guarantee will go a long way towards ensuring low-income families in New Jersey have access to a college education,” said Kathryn A. Foster, president of The College of New Jersey in Ewing. “A bachelor’s degree is a powerful driver of economic mobility and I applaud the state for investing in its citizens in this way.”

Students will be automatically considered for the program when they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the NJ Alternative Aid Application if the student is an unauthorized immigrant. The deadline to apply for the upcoming fall is Apr. 15.

"This program is providing 'last dollar,' meaning that we will first apply the federal aid and state aid and potentially any other institutional scholarships that the student may have qualified for,"  said Robert Heimrich, chief enrollment management officer at Stockton University in Galloway.

Heimrich noted that GSG builds upon New Jersey's Community College Opportunity Grant that offers tuition-free college to students of a certain income, at any of the state's county colleges.

"Garden State Guarantee provides that same type of funding to students, to continue their education at one of New Jersey's four-year institutions," he said.

Stockton already offers a "Promise Grant" to income-eligible students who are in their first or second year of study.

Funding for GSG was signed with the budget approval by Gov. Phil Murphy on June 29.

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