Gov. Phil Murphy, the New Jersey CEO Council, and Social Finance today announced the launch of the New Jersey Pay It Forward Program – a new workforce development initiative in which participants will receive zero-interest, no-fee loans at no upfront cost, as well as non-repayable living stipends and wrap-around supports, to allow them to affordably prepare for good-paying, career-track jobs in the healthcare, 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.
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 the state.
Participants who find jobs earning above a specific income threshold will repay the cost of their tuition over time, with payments capped at 10% of discretionary income. Any loan balance remaining after five years will be forgiven for borrowers in good standing. 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.
“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,” Murphy said. “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.”
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.
“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,” said Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, and co-chair of the New Jersey CEO Council.
Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO, Verizon, and Council co-chair, commented, “On behalf of Verizon, I am proud to support this cutting-edge educational funding program. 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.”
Murphy said the program will especially help people who leave the workforce in order to enter an educational job training program. “Even if it’s temporary, [these people are] giving up a paycheck … that is a big risk. Through the Pay It Forward program, we are able to eliminate a lot of the uncertainty and stress that often accompanies the decision to pursue training and upskilling,” he said.
“We’re excited to partner with the State of New Jersey and the 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.”
The New Jersey Pay It Forward program plans to partner with additional training providers in the coming months.
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