Inaugural career-focused courses of study were announced Wednesday as Gov. Phil Murphy and a slew of New Jersey officials activated the $12.5 million "Pay it Forward" program.

The state said credential, certificate and degree programs would be offered in registered nursing at Hudson County Community College, cybersecurity at New Jersey Institute of Technology, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as welding, at Camden County College.

"We are taking Pay it Forward off the drawing board, where we announced it in June of last year, and adding it to the many ways our state is putting quality job training within reach of every resident," Murphy said.

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The New Jersey CEO Council contributed approximately $5 million to the program, a release from the state said, while the state itself has appropriated $5 million in Fiscal Year 2022 and $2.5 million in FY2023.

Murphy emphasized that the Garden State is the first in the nation to make this kind of workforce development and career advancement commitment.

"This is truly Jersey-designed and a Jersey-built effort," he said. "It's an effort that reaffirms our commitment to quality post-secondary education."

What the money will cover, in large part, is zero-interest, no-fee loans with no upfront cost, according to the state.

The governor said living stipends would also be provided, and that one of the goals is to give New Jerseyans a better life for themselves and their families.

"It will also cover the cost of books, class materials, and other supplies. In addition, these students will receive critical wraparound services, such as career counseling and mental health supports," Murphy said. "Through Pay it Forward, we're able to eliminate a lot of the uncertainty and stress that so often accompanies the decision to pursue training and upskilling."

The "forward" in the program's name comes from the loan payments, which will be recycled back into the revolving fund to provide help to future students.

Any remaining loan balance after five years would be forgiven for those in good standing, the state said.

Find out more at njpayitforward.org.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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