In spite of its proximity to the financial district of New York, New Jersey still offers a more affordable cost of living.
However, this does not do much for single mothers who need more than affordability to keep their heads above water.
Most struggle to provide even minimum daily necessities for their families — with 33.6% of single mothers in New Jersey live in poverty.
Through NJ’s state programs, anyone with a need is eligible to receive assistance, such as food, cash benefits, subsidized child care, etc.
New Jersey SNAP — formerly Food Stamps, enables eligible low-income individuals and families to receive cash benefits to help pay for food. The maximum monthly benefit is $116 for a single individual and up to $349 for a family of three.1
Most families with gross income up to 185% of the federal poverty level or about $3,150 a month for a single mother of two, qualify for SNAP benefits.
Go to NJHelps.com to pre-screen or to apply online. This is a quick and easy way to find out if you qualify. If eligible, you’ll receive your benefits through the “Families First” card.
WorkFirst NJ, the state’s welfare program, is the cash assistance program for poor families with children under age 18. The program goal is to help them get off of welfare and become self-sufficient through job training, education and work activities.
WorkFirst NJ limits assistance to a maximum of 5 years over a participant’s lifetime, with certain exceptions. The elderly, disabled persons, and children under age 18 are exempt from this limit.
WorkFirst NJ recipients may receive Emergency Assistance (EA) in certain situations, such as being at risk of becoming homeless or a substantial loss of housing, food, or clothing due to fire, flood or similar disaster.
The state also has another program for single adults and couples without dependent children who have little or no income, known as WorkFirst NJ General Assistance (WFNJ/GA).
NJ FamilyCare is federal and state funded health insurance program that helps qualified New Jersey residents afford health insurance — which under the ACA, has been revised to include CHIP and Medicaid.
As New Jersey is expanding Medicaid coverage, NJ FamilyCare is now available to eligible adults age 19-64 with income up to 133% of the federal poverty level. For children, NJ FamilyCare covers up to 350% of the poverty level.
For most families, NJ FamilyCare will be free. Others will pay a monthly premium based on their income and small co-payments for some services. 2
NJ Cares for Kids provides subsidized childcare voucher payments3 for working families and full time students who meet the guidelines mandated by the state of New Jersey — primarily, families earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level.4
This childcare subsidy will assist you to pay for childcare for infants, toddlers, preschool-age children, school-age children up to age 13, and for children with special needs up to age 19.
To be eligible, you must meet the strict income requirement and be employed full time for a minimum of 30 hours per week or be enrolled in a school/training program for a minimum of 20 hours per week.
Transitional Child Care
If you participated in Work First New Jersey, you may be eligible for extended child care benefits for up to 24 months after you leave welfare. You’ll pay part of the cost of child care (a “co-pay” or fee), the amount of which may vary depending on your income.
For more information, call
Charity Care is the state program for low-income people in New Jersey who do not have full health care coverage and who are not eligible for programs like Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare.
Families with incomes not exceeding 200% of the federal poverty level may qualify for free hospital care. Those above the limit may receive reduced cost care where you only have to pay a portion of your hospital bill.
If you’re eligible for this program, you should apply for Charity Care at the hospital where you receive the service, usually in the hospital’s business office.
For more information, please call the Health Care for the Uninsured Program during business hours at 1-866-588-5696.
NJ WIC serves New Jersey’s youngest residents and their families at risk for poor nutrition and medically related health problems as well as families experiencing unemployment and other interim family financial hardships.
It provides special checks or vouchers for buying healthy foods to supplement their diet. Other benefits include nutrition education, breastfeeding support, free screening and referral to health care.
Call 1-866-44 NJ WIC or 1-866-446-5942 for information about your local WIC agency and how to apply.
Unemployment benefits are a safety net for those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own — providing weekly cash benefits of up to $681 to those who qualify.
To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work during each week in which you are claiming benefits.
New Jersey is one of only three states in the U.S. that provides paid leave benefits for employees who need to “take time off” to bond with a newborn baby or provide care for a seriously ill family member.
More Grants for Single Mothers in New Jersey →
The Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) Program is one of largest and most generous financial aid programs, with nearly one in every three full-time New Jersey undergraduates receiving awards.
TAG awards are renewable annually and range from $600 to $12,000. Students with an NJ Eligibility Index below 1,500 qualify for the maximum awards.7
Part-time TAG is also available for students who are enrolled for 6-11 credits in approved county colleges. The amount of the grant varies depending on student need, cost of attendance and available funding.
To be considered for a TAG award, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed each year within established NJ deadlines and meet all other program requirements.
NJ STARS is an initiative created by the State of New Jersey that provides New Jersey’s highest achieving students with free tuition at their home county college.
Students who rank in the top 15% of their class at the end of either junior or senior year of high school may be eligible to receive an NJ STARS award.
NJ STARS students must attain with a cumulative GPA of 3.20 or higher to meet the academic requirement for renewal or graduate with GPA of 3.50 or higher to qualify academically for the NJ STARS II program.
- NJ Snap: Fact Sheet
- NJ FamilyCare – Income Eligibility and Cost
- Under the NJ Cares for Kids, you must pay part of the cost of your child care [co-payment].
- NJ DHS, Child Care Income Eligibility Chart
- How many weeks do you get for maternity leave in NJ?
- Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Family Leave Insurance – Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR)
- The information on your FAFSA is used to calculate a New Jersey Eligibility Index (NJEI) which determines your financial eligibility for this award.