Recognizing the struggles college students can face when trying to afford non-tuition costs like food, child care, and housing, the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) has launched a free online navigation tool that will connect college students with a wide spectrum of basic needs resources.
BasicNeeds.NJ.gov – which was designed in collaboration with the state’s Office of Innovation –centralizes information relevant to students regarding housing, food, transportation, child care, and other similar supports, while providing an overview of eligibility and processes for seeking state assistance.
The state said that this new resource hub is part of Gov. Phil Murphy’s ongoing efforts toward the statewide goal of ensuring 65 percent of New Jerseyans hold a high-quality credential by 2025.
“As my Administration continues to work toward making higher education more affordable and accessible throughout our state, we recognize that success depends on what happens both in and out of the classroom,” said Gov. Murphy.
“Today’s students come from all different backgrounds and face any number of challenges in their day-to-day life beyond their ongoing studies,” he said. “We must take a whole-of-government approach to supporting New Jersey students and understanding their unique challenges to help ensure their postsecondary success.”
BasicNeeds.NJ.gov is also part of the state’s broader Resident Experience Initiative (ResX) to streamline, simplify, and improve how New Jersey delivers benefits and services to residents. ResX is funded via the Federal government’s American Rescue Plan.
“Supporting students’ basic needs security is not only the right thing to do, but it is also vital to ensuring that colleges and universities can fulfill their missions to help students achieve their academic goals,” said New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian K. Bridges. “In today’s landscape, students grapple with unprecedented challenges and enhancing opportunities for communication between researchers, policymakers and practitioners is critical. This collaborative approach empowers us to innovate and formulate lasting solutions, focused on equitable support for all students.”
As part of the digital hub’s design and development process, the Office of Innovation and OSHE connected with over 900 individuals and campus partners through outreach that included more than two dozen community groups statewide and ethnographic interviews conducted with New Jersey college students. The state noted that the site will be continually updated and enhanced based on feedback from student users, various campus stakeholders, and community organizations.
“In order to ensure that our services are truly meeting the needs of our residents, it’s essential that we include them and community partners in the design and development process,” said New Jersey State Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Beth Simone Noveck. “The BasicNeeds.NJ.gov website marks one among a suite of partnerships the Office of Innovation has been proud to engage in. We are always seeking ways to better connect communities with the tools and information they need to thrive in New Jersey.”