Bergen’s main campus in Paramus.
PARAMUS, N.J. – According to the federal government, Bergen Community College students earn the highest salaries among past enrollees at the state’s 19 two-year institutions and even out-earn peers from some four-year institutions. The data, reported through the recently updated “College Scorecard” maintained by the U.S. Department of Education, ranks colleges by students’ median earnings 10 years after enrollment. Stevens Institute of Technology students led the overall rankings of New Jersey public, private, two- and four-year institutions with attendees earning $89,200.
“Students enroll at Bergen Community College to advance their education, expand their knowledge and participate in high-level discourse. They come to Bergen because they know they will have an opportunity to learn,” Bergen President Michael D. Redmond, Ph.D., said. “But they also come to Bergen to earn. Increasingly, students understand the value proposition of a college degree and the improved lifetime earnings outlook that one provides. It’s satisfying to know that the College has prepared students for success in both areas, as evidenced by these rankings.”
The data, taken from the tax returns of students who received federal financial aid while enrolled, places Bergen’s average annual cost at $6,909. The average cost of the four-year colleges ranked ahead of Bergen with students earning up to $43,400 is $20,837.
The value of a community college education finds further support from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, which shows that individuals with an associate’s degree compile an additional $400,000 in lifetime earnings over those with only a high school diploma.
In the “2016-17 College Salary Report” by PayScale, Bergen graduates ranked No. 11 in the U.S. for mid-career salaries among community college alumni. That research indicated students from Bergen’s health professions and science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs – all fields with strong earning potential – drove the College’s high ranking.
Value and affordability represent a focus area for the College, as research indicates approximately 50 percent of all community college students believe financial issues could cause them to leave their institution, according to the Center for Community College Student Engagement.
To create new pathways to education for New Jersey’s working class families, Bergen recently secured the state’s Community College Opportunity Grant, which will provide a tuition-free college experience for students with household incomes of less than $45,000. State officials selected Bergen as one of 13 community colleges awarded $20 million for the spring 2019 pilot program. As a “last dollar” initiative, the program will cover all remaining tuition and fees for students taking six or more credits after any other federal or state grants are applied to their tuition bills.
The state’s largest community college, Bergen offers programs in fields such as aviation, business administration, culinary arts, fashion design and nursing. Alumni have transferred to institutions such as Yale, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley. The College maintains campus locations in Paramus (main), Hackensack (Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center) and Lyndhurst (Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands) while also offering online classes. Its main campus features facilities such as the Health Professions Integrated Teaching Center, the Emil Buehler Trust Observatory and Stryker Manufacturing Lab, which provide students with hands-on, practice-based learning opportunities. Day and evening classes take place throughout the week – including a “weekend college” program.
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.
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