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Red Hawk Advantage Award (RHAA)

Red Hawk Advantage Award (RHAA)

The RHAA is available to eligible incoming transfer and freshmen students only. The RHAA does not apply to housing or meal costs.

The Red Hawk Advantage Award provides up to four semesters of free tuition and fees to eligible New Jersey students at Montclair State University or Bloomfield College. If your family’s federal Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) falls between $0 and $65,000, and your high school GPA is 3.0+, you qualify for free tuition and general fees. Combined with the Garden State Guarantee Program, this means you could graduate with little to no debt!

This is more than an opportunity; it is an invitation to embrace your educational journey unburdened. Your aspirations, our commitment – let the Red Hawk Advantage Award pave the way to your academic success.

Funding is based on annual allocations from the University.

What do I need to be eligible?

Students who meet the below criteria are eligible for the Red Hawk Advantage Award:

  • NJ residents, including NJ Dream Act students – must meet the NJ HESAA residency requirements.
  • Must complete the FAFSA and meet all state deadlines to have state aid eligibility determined. Failure to complete your state aid process jeopardizes your eligibility for this program too. Check your state aid status online at HESAA.
  • The Adjusted Gross Income is based on parent(s)’ AGI for dependent students or student/spouse income for independent students. The income establishing eligibility is based on the income reported on the FAFSA for the academic year in question.
  • Students must be working toward their first bachelor’s degree and must have earned no more than 59 credits. Both new students and incoming transfers are eligible.
  • Must be enrolled full-time (12 credits or more) during the semester. RHAA is only for fall and spring semesters and will not pay for additional credits beyond the flat rate (12-18).
  • Enroll full-time in your first or second year at Montclair State University or Bloomfield College of Montclair State University. This is defined as having earned 0-30 credits for first year and 31-59 earned credits for second year (credits include those earned from different institution(s) as long as Montclair/Bloomfield has accepted the credits).
  • Students must complete all verification and document request requirements with the University or NJHESAA.
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.
What do I have to submit to be considered?

Consideration is automatic with your FAFSA or NJ Alternative Application! There is not a separate application beyond one of those to complete.

Remember these important application requirements:

  • Complete your FAFSA immediately if you have not already done so. NJ Dreamers should file the NJ Alternative Application found on HESAA’s website.
  • Students must file the FAFSA or NJ Alternative Application by HESAA’s state grant deadlines.
  • Students must submit any requested documentation required by the Financial Aid Office.
  • If HESAA requests additional documentation, submission deadlines must also be met.
  • You must also complete the state grant process (submit additional documents, if requested), regardless of eligibility for other state grant aid.
RHAA Frequently Asked Questions

How is the RHAA grant determined?
The RHAA grant is based on the flat rate tuition and mandatory fees (not including cents) minus all federal, state, institutional and outside grant/scholarship aid.

When will the RHAA grants be applied to my account?
The RHAA grant will be added to the financial aid information as students become eligible (meet all NJHESAA criteria).

Am I eligible for RHAA if I have an Associate’s Degree?
No. You can be eligible as a transfer student with less than 60 credits as long as you meet all other criteria above. Once you have earned 60 credits, you are no longer eligible for the RHAA; you may then be considered for the GSG program.

What happens to my RHAA eligibility if I take a semester off?
The RHAA is available to eligible students for up to four semesters total while studying in their first and second years (as defined by earned credits). If you take a semester off, you will receive RHAA when you return to Montclair State University or Bloomfield College of Montclair State University as long as you continue to meet all program requirements, including the Adjusted Gross Income requirements.

While there is no time limit to receiving the RHAA benefits, once a student earns 60 or more college credits, they are no longer eligible, regardless of enrollment or degree attainment status.

What happens if I withdraw from a course or all of my courses?
The RHAA grant may be reduced if your tuition is adjusted due to your withdrawal. This partial payment counts toward the maximum number of payments allowed. Visit this Add/Drop and Withdrawal page for more information.

Can I transfer to Montclair/Bloomfield and still be eligible for RHAA?
Yes, all credits earned that have been accepted by Montclair State University/Bloomfield College of Montclair State University will count towards your eligibility. Remember that you must have earned less than 60 to qualify for RHAA.

I attended college several years ago and am considering returning to finish my bachelor’s degree. As a degree completion and/or adult student, am I eligible for RHAA?
Yes, as long as you meet the program eligibility criteria described above. The RHAA is perfect for returning students and is an excellent opportunity for those students who meet the independent status criteria on the FAFSA as the income guideline is based solely on your and your spouse’s income.

I missed the state deadline to file or complete my state grant application. Can I still get the RHAA?
No. A missed deadline forfeits your eligibility for state programs for the semester in question. You may be eligible for a subsequent semester as applicable. View the HESAA filing deadlines.

How do I determine my AGI?
For dependent students, only the parent(s)’ AGI is considered, not the student’s income. For independent students, the AGI of the student and spouse, if applicable, is considered. Please refer to the federal income tax return used on the FAFSA for the academic year.

My parents were not required to file a federal income tax return due to their circumstances. Am I eligible?
No. A $0 AGI is only eligible if your parent(s)/you and your spouse, if applicable, indicate taxes ‘Were filed’ or ‘Will be filed’ on the FAFSA. A blank AGI is not eligible.

My parents have a negative federal adjusted gross income (AGI). Am I eligible?
No. In accordance with the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority’s (HESAA) policy, families who have negative AGIs are automatically disqualified from both the Red Hawk Advantage Award and the Tuition Assistance Grant programs.

I’m not eligible for state grants because of my family’s other income or assets. Will I still qualify for RHAA?
The RHAA program is based solely on the AGI figure and does not include other income or assets. It is straightforward so families can easily understand whether they qualify or not.

If I am paying for college myself, can my eligibility be determined by only my AGI?
The income requirement is determined by the AGI reported on the FAFSA. If you are required to include parental information on the FAFSA, the AGI used will be that of your parent(s), even if you are living on your own and supporting yourself.

What if I am independent?
If you meet one of the criteria to be considered an independent student on the FAFSA and are not required to include parental information on the FAFSA; or you are approved for a dependency status appeal by the University, then your revised AGI will be used to determine eligibility.

My family’s income situation has changed and the income reported on the FAFSA no longer accurately reflects our situation. What are my options?
When family circumstances change, you may qualify to have your aid eligibility reconsidered through an appeal process known as Request for Review. Please refer to our appeals page for policy details and to submit the required documentation necessary for the income adjustment appeal.

I have scholarships and grants but also live on campus. Why can’t I use those funds to pay for housing and use RHAA to pay tuition and fees?
The Red Hawk Advantage Award program is a last-dollar grant program designed to help with tuition and fees. This means that it will only provide funding when there is a tuition and fee balance due remaining after all other grants and scholarships have been applied to your bill. In some cases, students receive enough free money from other sources that tuition and fees may be fully covered.

I am in the US on a visa. Am I eligible for RHAA?
Any student for whom the University is legally required to charge in-state tuition rates is eligible for RHAA (pursuant to N.J.S.A 18A:62-4.6). This includes students who hold an H4 visa.

I am eligible for Veterans’ Benefits. Does this impact my RHAA?
No, any military tuition benefits paid to the school to cover tuition and fees are not included in the calculation for RHAA eligibility.