Attending community college can be a great step in your journey, whether that’s pursuing a career in a new field, completing a certification program to advance in your current job, or continuing your education after high school.
There are roughly 12.4 million students enrolled in the 942 community colleges across the United States. New Jersey is home to 18 wonderful community colleges- many of which offer generous grants and other types of financial aid!
Community college can be a great option to earn a degree and gain the experience you’ll need for the workforce, without a hefty student loan bill at the end. Plus, students who complete their first two years at one of the community colleges in New Jersey before transferring to a 4-year college save about $21,000 in tuition and fees- the highest savings in the country!
Keep reading for Universities.com’s top 10 community college picks!
10 Best New Jersey Community Colleges 2023
There are many community colleges throughout the state, but we’ve looked at hundreds of schools to narrow it down to the very best top 10. Here is the full ranking if you’re interested in schools past #10.
10. Raritan Valley Community College
Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) has over 90 degree and certificate programs for students to choose from, ranging in topics from booking and cosmetology to early childhood education and physics. RVCC also offers an honors program for students who meet the prerequisites and encourages students to volunteer on and off-campus. Like most community colleges, RVCC is home to 100+ student organizations, such as the student newspaper, academic honor societies, religious groups, performance art groups, and fitness clubs. Raritan Valley Community College also offers the New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant for students with family incomes of less than $65,000.
9. Rowan College of South Jersey
Rowan College of South Jersey offers over 120 different programs in areas such as digital marketing, accounting, human resource management, and automotive technology. Rowan College of South Jersey also has fully online programs in history, business administration, psychology, and social services, among others. Both campuses in Gloucester and Cumberland host a variety of athletic and extracurricular activities. Rich in tradition, students enjoy a range of fun events throughout the school year, like Fall Fest, Thanksgiving, Adopt-A-Family, Spring Fling, and Service Days.
8. Union County College
Union County College is part of the system offering the Community College Opportunity Grant, granting students with incomes of less than $65,000 access to free tuition. This applies to UCC’s 100% online programs as well. UCC has a large variety of degrees and certificates, so whether sociology, health science, business marketing, or criminal justice sounds good, you’ll be able to find it at Union County College.
UCC has several extracurricular activities as well:
- Academic clubs like history club and education club
- Recreational clubs like yoga club and tennis club
- Diversity associations such as the Gay Straight Alliance and Black Heritage Organization
- Special interest clubs like art club, film club, and Union Gamers United
7. Warren County Community College
Warren County Community College (WCCC) is an affordable alternative to a traditional 4-year college, and they offer associate degrees and certifications in the following:
- Business management
- Computer science and graphics
- Creative writing
- Criminal justice
- Liberal arts
- Emergency services
- Medical fields
- Professional studies
Thanks to the Community College Opportunity Grant, WCCC is able to provide free tuition to students with family incomes of $65,000 or less. Extracurriculars such as student government, future educators club, running club, and community outreach club, ensure that students are able to get involved while attending WCCC. Warren County Community College also offers distance learning for students who need more flexibility.
6. County College of Morris
County College of Morris (CCM) offers over 80 different degrees, from dance and criminal justice to exercise science and game development. With so many options, selecting your field of study might be difficult! County College of Morris also offers athletic opportunities, like soccer, volleyball, golf, and basketball, and provides students with plenty of chances to get involved: art club, Black Student Union, book clubs, and outdoors club, among others. CCM has an onsite tutoring center, honors programs for qualified students, and 100% online programs in public health, child and family studies, graphic design, and many other fields.
5. Salem Community College
Salem Community College (SCC) offers plenty of options:
- Associate in Arts
- Associate in Fine Arts
- Associate in Science
- Associate in Applied Science
- Medical coding, administrative assistant, practical nursing, and pharmacy technician certifications
Students attending Salem Community College enjoy a wide range of extracurricular activities, such as choir, various honors societies, and campus ministry. Student life at SCC also offers athletics, like softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, and even e-sports. SCC is well known for its glass education program, which offers associate degrees as well as seasonal workshops in glass art and scientific class technology.
4. Eastwick College-Hackensack
Students at Eastwick College’s Hackensack Campus choose from a plethora of options, but here are just a few:
- Certifications in computer concepts and applications
- Diplomas in licensed practical nursing
- Associate degrees in culinary arts, health science, funeral service, and business and hospitality
Offering both daytime and nighttime courses allows students to balance their time between work, school, and other obligations. If you’re still in high school, take advantage of Eastwick College-Hackensack’s high school occupational training program! This program provides students the opportunity to receive high school credit for their training while attending community college at the same time!
3. Eastwick College-Nutley
At Eastwick College-Nutley, you’ll find a wide range of programs, from associate degrees:
- IT/Network support
- Business and hospitality
- Diagnostic cardiovascular sonography
You’ll also find the following diplomas and certification programs:
- Medical assisting
- Office and accounting administration
- Electronics and computer technology
You can get started in your career in a little as 9 months with an associate degree in some fields. Eastwick prides itself on offering hands-on in-demand and practical skillsets for its students, so externships and clinical rotations are included as part of each and every student’s schedule. Eastwick also offers lifetime placement assistance for careers after graduation and allows each student up to $3,000 in grants for textbooks upon enrollment.
2. Jersey College
Established in 2004, Jersey College is a private, 2-year college specializing in nursing education. Over the last decade and a half, Jersey College opened seven additional campuses, each offering two programs: an "LPN" (licensed practical nursing) program and a “RN” (registered nurse) program.
They pride themselves on flexibility, with many students enrolled in a night program. Programs vary from 18 months to 36 months in length, allowing for many opportunities for students to gain the practical experience they need to succeed in nursing. Some Jersey College campuses offer simulation labs for hands-on practice, while others are connected to a hospital which allows for hands-on training in a clinical environment.
1. Assumption College for Sisters
Assumption College for Sisters offers two degrees: an Associate in Arts and an Associate in Religious Arts. Because service to the community and religious studies are so important at the Assumption College for Sisters, a student typically takes between one to three courses per semester.
Students frequently attend off-site lectures, give talks to local elementary school students, volunteer with youth ministries, and serve the handicapped and the elderly. A perk of attending? The day before midterms and final exams is a designated “study day”, with no classes or additional work assigned!
If you're looking for other Jersey colleges, check out the Find Your Perfect "U" tool. You can search over 6,000 colleges and universities with 11 different filters to find the perfect school for you!
To narrow the list of community colleges down to the top 10, Universities.com has a robust college ranking algorithm, using the latest data from the U.S. government. Schools are ranked on admissions, financial resources, retention and graduation, and instructors and faculty. You can rest assured that Universities.com takes great pride in having the best data so you can make the most informed decision about your future.
How Do I Pay For Community College?
It’s no secret that higher education is expensive- and the costs are only increasing every single year. Attending a community college, whether for a certificate program, an associate degree, or training for the workplace, can be a fantastic way to reduce costs. Many community colleges offer part-time, on-campus classes to allow students to gain hands-on skills that will transfer to the “real world”.
Community colleges also offer scholarships and grants, like the New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant. Filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Aid) can be the first step in discovering just how affordable higher education can be! Universities.com also has a great tool for finding relevant scholarships.
Scholarships for Community College Students
The New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant provides free tuition for students with family incomes less than $65,000. Students must attend one of the county community colleges and be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credits per semester.
The New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant awards students with demonstrated financial need attending one of the county community colleges up to $2,786 per year. This grant is for full-time students in New Jersey, and students must maintain good academic standing to receive a renewal each year.
The New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund provides counseling, tutoring, and financial assistance to New Jersey students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. These grants range from $200 to $2,750 annually depending on the level of financial need and the type of higher education institution.
Is Going to Community College Worth It?
Community colleges are often more flexible and allow for better balance between life, work, and school. Completing a degree or certificate program is often quicker and more time-efficient than attending a 4-year university. This way, you can get right out to the workforce and start using your newfound skills, knowledge, and training!
Having less, if any, student loan debt is also a huge plus of attending community college. With the variety of grants and scholarships available, graduating with little to no student loan debt is possible! You may also receive more individualized attention in classes at a community college due to the smaller class sizes and student-to-faculty ratios.
Community college can be an excellent option for students interested in discovering their passion with more flexibility, the opportunity to study online, and personalized attention from faculty.