Photo by Pavel Chernonogov:

Gov. Phil Murphy, the New Jersey CEO Council, and Social Finance announced the launch of the New Jersey Pay It Forward Program—a new and innovative workforce development program that furthers the Governor’s ongoing commitment to helping residents obtain quality postsecondary education and training to advance their careers, as outlined in the New Jersey Higher Education State Plan and Jobs NJ. The Pay It Forward Program, which is the first of its kind in the nation, will help build a robust and talented workforce while supporting economic growth in the state. Participants in the program will receive zero-interest, no-fee loans at no upfront cost, as well as non-repayable living stipends and wraparound supports, to allow them to affordably prepare for good-paying, career-track jobs in the health care, information technology (IT), and clean energy sectors.

The loans will enable participants to enroll in credential, certificate, and degree programs at one of three inaugural training providers: Registered Nursing at Hudson County Community College, Cybersecurity at New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Welding at Camden County College. Loan terms are designed to be more borrower-friendly than even federal student loans.

All loan payments will be recycled back into the fund to ‘pay it forward’ for subsequent students’ training costs. The program aims to help participants find jobs while also helping employers fill in-demand positions in high-growth sectors to promote economic growth in New Jersey.

“With today’s launch of Pay It Forward, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to model this innovative approach that will help residents obtain family-sustaining jobs and then pay their success forward by supporting future cohorts of students,” said Governor Murphy. “This initiative is another way in which my Administration is working to give more residents access to high-quality education and training that will lead to good-paying jobs and successful careers. Investing in our residents will not only give them the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families, but will also help meet employers’ needs and promote economic development throughout the state.”

“I share the excitement of the Governor and my fellow council members about the launch of the Pay It Forward program,” said Charles Lowrey, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial and Co-Chair of the NJ CEO Council. “I am confident this program will help under-resourced New Jerseyans develop valuable skills, access new job opportunities, and achieve financial security for their families they may have thought was unattainable.” 

“On behalf of Verizon, I am proud to support this cutting-edge educational funding program,” said Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon and Co-Chair of the NJ CEO Council. “It will enable more people to participate in a future driven by mobility, broadband, and cloud computing, which are the essential pieces of infrastructure driving New Jersey’s economy. This is good for the state, good for Verizon, and good for the country.”

Participants who find jobs earning above a specific income threshold will repay the cost of their tuition over time. Any loan balance remaining after five years will be forgiven for borrowers in good standing. To help them succeed throughout the program, participants will also receive living stipends and free wraparound supports, including access to an emergency aid fund and mental health counseling services. Under the program, students will not have to repay the living stipends or wraparound supports. The loans are intended to be a last-dollar option, allowing students to maximize the free resources available to them to minimize the amount they need to repay.

“We’re excited to partner with the State of New Jersey and the NJ CEO Council to launch this first-of-its kind public-private partnership that brings the state’s economic and workforce development priorities together,” said Tracy Palandjian, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Finance, the nonprofit designing and managing the fund. “This sustainable, innovative fund is helping to advance New Jersey’s business goals while putting the learner’s success at the center of the arrangement.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Murphy and a visionary group of business leaders, the Pay It Forward initiative will prepare job seekers for opportunities and strengthen New Jersey’s economy,” said David J. Socolow, Executive Director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. “To boost students’ chances of success, this first-in-the-nation program provides both living stipend grants and zero-interest loans that require affordable, income-based repayments only when students get hired at a family-sustaining wage after completing a training course. Because all loan repayments from graduates will be recycled to train future students, state funds and private donations will stretch further to reach more New Jerseyans.”

“Hudson County Community College is honored to be selected as an inaugural provider for Governor Murphy’s ‘Pay It Forward’ program,” said Dr. Christopher M. Reber, President of Hudson County Community College. “Our RN program is one of the finest and most successful anywhere. We have committed, experienced faculty who assist students who come from diverse backgrounds and have a variety of learning needs, and we have affiliations with every major area hospital so students receive clinical experience that prepares them for today’s nursing practice.”

Members of the New Jersey CEO Council, a coalition of CEOs from some of the state’s largest and most widely recognized companies, provided corporate contributions of approximately $5 million to the Pay It Forward Program. The State added to this commitment with appropriations of $5 million in Fiscal Year 2022 and $2.5 million in Fiscal Year 2023. The CEO Council is made up of the CEOs of BD, Campbell Soup Company, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Prudential Financial, PSEG, RWJBarnabas Health, and Verizon.

After a thorough due diligence process, the New Jersey Pay It Forward Program selected a set of inaugural training providers with high-quality, industry-recognized training programs and a track record of strong employment outcomes, employer relationships, and experience serving learners from diverse backgrounds.

New Jerseyans have the option to enroll in Hudson County Community College’s Nursing Program, a two-year, full-time associate degree program in Jersey City designed to prepare learners for careers as  registered nurses. Participants complete clinical placements to gain on-the-job nursing experience and prepare for roles as nurses in hospitals and other health care settings. The program offers evening, weekend, and daytime class schedules to accommodate working learners and learners with families.

Learners can also enroll in New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Cybersecurity Professional Bootcamp, a 10-month, part-time, online training program designed to prepare learners for cybersecurity careers. This course, which includes topics such as computer networking, cloud security, network security, and Python, takes place on nights and weekends to better serve the needs of working learners and learners with families.

Finally, New Jerseyans have the option to enroll in Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) or Welding courses at Camden County College. Classes take place at Camden County Technical School’s Sicklerville Campus or Pennsauken Campus. Both programs, which meet in-person on weekday evenings, are nine-month, part-time courses with strong completion and job placement outcomes.

The New Jersey Pay It Forward Program plans to partner with additional training providers in the coming months. 

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