FILE - NJ Princeton student 3-10-2016

Students walk March 10, 2016, across the campus of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.

(The Center Square) – New Jersey awarded $28.5 million to 35 “public and public-mission private institutions” across the state as part of a grant program to increase the number of students who complete college.

The $28.5 million for the “Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge” is from the U.S. Department of Education through the second round of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding. The money will go toward tackling barriers to students’ success and developing “sustainable systemic reforms.”

The state is sending another $1 million combined to 11 public institutions as part of the “Hunger-Free Campus.” The money goes to address students’ “food insecurity” at public schools by, in part, raising the awareness of available on-campus services.

“Through this critical federal funding, New Jersey is prioritizing students’ needs and ensuring our workforce will be ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s post-pandemic economy,” Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges said in a news release. “We appreciate that institutions are committing to this challenge and look forward to learning from the innovative best practices implemented, as we strive to meet the state’s goal of 65 percent of residents earning a high-quality credential by 2025.”

In a news release, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said the money will help ensure that students’ “potential is not measured against the financial, social, emotional, or educational challenges they may face.”