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New Jersey, the Garden State, is home to 9,261,699 people. The average New Jerseyan has a personal income of $67,120 and owes $62,350 in consumer debt (not including mortgages). Around 798,262 people live below the federal poverty guidelines — or 9.2% of the state’s population. This is slightly below the national poverty rate of 11.6%.

If you’re a New Jersey resident seeking debt relief or financial assistance, here’s what you need to know about your options.

New Jersey debt statistics

Here are some recent debt-related statistics in New Jersey:

  • Average household debt (debt per capita): $62,350
  • Average student loan debt: $35,434
  • Average credit score: 724
  • Median mortgage payment: $2,439
  • Bankruptcies in 2021: 2,639
  • Personal income/Annual mean wage: $67,120
  • Child poverty: 12.1% (ranked 13th)
  • Unemployment: 3.3%

Debt collection laws in New Jersey

New Jersey follows the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which regulates debt collection in the United States. The state provides additional information about what debt collectors can and cannot do, as well as what rights you have as a consumer. For example:

  • Debt collectors cannot contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. without express permission
  • A debt collector must stop contacting you at work upon request
  • Anyone trying to collect a debt must immediately identify themselves and the purpose of the call
  • Debt collectors cannot use threats, abusive language, profanities, or manipulative or deceptive tactics to try to collect money
  • A debt collector cannot claim you owe more than you do, or try to collect on additional charges (unless outlined in the debt agreement)
  • If an attorney is representing you in connection with a debt, the debt collector must contact the attorney

You can find more information in New Jersey’s Debt Collection Consumer Fraud Education and Protection Program Handbook.

Debt relief options for New Jersey residents

New Jersey debt relief comes in many forms, but here are the most common options:

  • Debt consolidation: A debt consolidation loan is a way of combining several smaller debts into one loan with a fixed monthly payment. Ideally, the new loan should also come with a lower interest rate.
  • Debt management plan (DMP): If you have a large amount of unsecured debt, a DMP could help. With a DMP, you could lower interest rates or create a repayment plan that works with your finances. This can make it easier to manage your debts and pay them off over time.
  • DIY plans: If you have solid negotiation skills, consider a do-it-yourself plan. With this option, you might be able to reduce interest rates or monthly payments. You might also be able to reduce your total debt amount.
  • Debt settlement: Debt settlement lets you reduce how much you owe to less than the original balance.
  • Personal bankruptcy: As a last resort, personal bankruptcy could help you get your finances back on track. Depending on your situation, you may qualify for either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Consult with an attorney before filing to see if this is the best option.

Debt settlement in New Jersey

Debt settlement could reduce how much you owe on unsecured debts to less than what you currently owe. This can make it easier to manage monthly payments or pay off the remaining balance. This option is generally recommended only if the alternative is bankruptcy.

A debt settlement plan could help with different types of unsecured debts, including:

  • Personal loans
  • Personal lines of credit
  • Credit cards
  • Department store credit cards
  • Old judgments
  • Loans in default

Although not required, most people go through a licensed debt settlement agency for this. An agency will work with your creditors to try to reduce how much you owe on your enrolled accounts. If they’re successful, you could see an overall debt reduction of as much as 50% or more (after agency fees).

During the process, the agency may advise you to stop making payments on the debts they’re trying to settle. This can improve your success rate, but it may also damage your credit and lead to late fees. You will also usually need to make payments into a secured account that the agency will then use to pay your creditors.

Debt settlement typically takes two to four years to complete. However, it’s possible to get an individual debt reduced in a couple of months.

New Jersey debt settlement companies

These New Jersey companies can help with debt settlement or other forms of debt relief:

Debt settlement attorneys

If you’re considering debt settlement, but aren’t sure how to go about it, one of these New Jersey attorneys may be able to help:

Debt resources for New Jersey residents facing hardship

In New Jersey, there are many financial hardship programs and resources available to residents in need. These can help with rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, healthcare, childcare, and other costs.

State hardship programs

Aside from debt relief options, New Jersey also has several state-specific hardship programs for residents. These include:

  • New Jersey Housing: The Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program is designed to help with household expenses, such as mortgage reinstatement, property tax liens, and mortgage payments. Eligibility is based on certain income requirements, primary homeownership, and pandemic-related hardship.
  • Single Family Housing Repair and Grants Program: Also known as the Section 504 Home Repair Program, this is geared toward low-income homeowners. Its purpose is to help homeowners repair or modernize their home, as well as remove safety hazards from the property.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: This federal program helps low-income individuals pay for heating and cooling costs through a one-time payment.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program: CHIP provides low-cost or free health insurance to children from low-income families. In New Jersey, it’s called “NJ FamilyCare” and can be combined with Medicaid benefits.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: NJ SNAP provides a monthly stipend to help lower the cost of food. The amount is based on income.
  • Combined Application Project: This program combines several applications (ex. SNAP and SSI) into one, making it easier to apply for benefits from several programs at once.
  • WIC: The Women, Infants, and Children program provides nutrition information, community support, and access to healthy foods to qualifying individuals.
  • For Women: This website provides access to different resources geared toward women, such as the Abuse Intervention Program.
  • Organization for Refugees and Immigrants: This resource helps refugees and immigrants by educating them on their rights and providing information about the different resources available to them.

Food assistance

New Jersey also has a number of food pantries and food banks for residents facing food insecurity or hunger. An estimated 657,320 residents face hunger each day — or one in 14 people. And, while charitable and government programs like the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help, they’re not always enough.

That’s where food banks and food pantries come in. These resources can help combat hunger by providing free, nutritious food to families in the state. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Fulfill: 3300 Route 66 Neptune, NJ 07753 (Monmouth Country) or 1769 Hooper Avenue Toms River, NJ 08753 (Ocean Country); (732) 918-2600 or (732) 731-1400
  • Food Bank of South Jersey: 1501 John Tipton Blvd., Pennsauken, NJ 08110; (856) 662-4884
  • Community FoodBank of New Jersey: 31 Evans Terminal Hillside, NJ 07205; (908) 355-3663
  • Philabundance: 3616 South Galloway Street Philadelphia, PA 19148; (215) 339-0900

Income and employment in New Jersey

New Jersey ranks 11th in terms of job creation with average job growth of 144,500. In May 2020, the unemployment rate was 15.80%. But since then, it’s dropped to 3.40%. This is also the country’s average unemployment rate.

The Garden State does not have right-to-work laws. However, it does have employment-at-will laws. This means a company can fire any employee without notice or cause (unless the job contract states otherwise). This could lead to reduced job security.

How to apply for unemployment benefits in New Jersey

The first step to applying for unemployment benefits is to head to New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Insurance website. This site provides many resources, such as how to apply and a comprehensive FAQ section.

The best way to apply for benefits is online. To apply online, you’ll need to have worked in New Jersey in the past 18 months, or have served in the military and by residing in the state. Otherwise, you can apply via phone. You can also file claims online or over the phone.

Be prepared with some information, such as your:

  • Social Security number
  • NJ ID, driver’s license, or passport
  • Military Form DD-214 (if applicable)
  • Form SF-50 or SF-8 (for federal employees only)
  • Union information
  • Pension information (if applicable)
  • Bank account information (for direct deposit)
  • Details regarding your previous employer, employment dates, job title, and earnings

If you do not already have one, create an online account so you can file claims online. After completing the application, wait for the decision on your eligibility. If ineligible, you can file an appeal. Otherwise, check your email or mailbox for instructions on how to claim benefits.

You’ll need to certify for benefits regularly. You’ll also need to actively look for work while receiving benefits.

Banking and taxes in New Jersey

New Jersey has a progressive tax bracket system. The individual state income tax is:

  • $0 = 1.40% marginal tax rate
  • $20,000+ = 1.75% marginal tax rate
  • $35,000 = 3.50% marginal tax rate
  • $40,000 = 5.53% marginal tax rate
  • $75,000+ = 6.37% marginal tax rate
  • $500,000 = 8.97% marginal tax rate
  • $5,000,000 = 10,75% marginal tax rate

The marginal tax rate includes federal and state income taxes. For more information, refer to

In New Jersey, 3.5% of residents are unbanked. This means they don’t have a checking or savings account with a bank or credit union. People who are unbanked are often more likely to use expensive alternative forms of financing like payday loans or cash advances.

New Jersey housing market

The homeownership rate in New Jersey was 64.30% in 2020, though it’s expected to decrease to 61.50% by 2040. The average housing cost in the state is $451,704 compared to the country’s average home value of $328,745.

Currently, the median mortgage payment is $2,458. The median rent payment is slightly lower at $2,350.

As housing prices continue to rise — up 6.8% in New Jersey over one year —, many homeowners seek financial assistance. The New Jersey Homeowners Assistance Fund offers many statewide and regional programs for homeowners who need help. These include affordable housing resources, homebuyer programs, and housing counseling.

Retirement in New Jersey

To live comfortably during retirement, the average New Jerseyan needs about $882,409 saved up. However, the average resident only has $514,245 set aside for retirement.

Average New Jersey insurance premiums

A typical homeowners insurance policy costs $775 a year in New Jersey for $250,000 dwelling coverage. The cost of a similar policy in the USA is $1,428 annually (on average).

The average full-coverage car insurance policy in New Jersey is $1,891 a year. This is about standard in the country.

Payday lending status in New Jersey: Prohibited

Payday lending is illegal in New Jersey.

  • Maximum loan amount: N/A
  • Maximum Interest Rate (APR): N/A
  • Minimum loan term: N/A
  • Maximum loan term: N/A

Statute of limitations on debt in New Jersey

The statute of limitations on debt in New Jersey ranges from four to six years:

  • Medical debt: 6 years
  • Credit card: 6 years
  • Auto loan debt: 4 years
  • State tax debt: 4 years (or no limit)

Help for Veterans

New Jersey is home to about 338,012 Veterans. The New Jersey Department of Veteran Affairs offers information about the benefits available to Veterans and their families. This and other resources can help Veterans facing homelessness, unemployment, or other hardships.

Facilities in New Jersey

Need a VA facility near you? Here are some of the main ones:

Employment resources for Veterans

New Jersey offers several job-related resources and opportunities to help Veterans seeking civilian employment. The following websites also help Vets who need to transition back into the civilian workforce:

  • CareerOneStop offers job advice, career resources, and an online job search portal.
  • works with Veterans and their spouses to help them find civilian work.
  • has virtual career fairs to make it for Vets, their spouses, and other military personnel to find work.
  • Helmets to Hardhats, a nonprofit program, connects current and ex-military members to work in the construction industry.
  • Hiring Our Heroes offers career resources and helps Vets find work through networking events.
  • My Next Move helps Vets find civilian employment using their military-earned skills.
  • Warriors to Work connects Veterans and prospective employers, as well as helps Veterans prepare for job interviews.

The bottom line

New Jersey has many options for residents seeking debt relief or financial assistance. This includes state-specific and federal hardship programs, as well as charitable and low-cost aid. If you’re struggling financially or with large amounts of debt, weigh your options carefully. When in doubt, speak with a credit counseling company or attorney about the best course of action for you.


How long can a debt be collected in New Jersey?

Most debts can be collected for four to six years in New Jersey. State tax debt may have no limit.

When does the statute of limitations begin in New Jersey?

The statute of limitations on debt begins on the date of your last account activity or interaction with your original creditor.

Am I responsible for my spouse’s debt if I get divorced in New Jersey?

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning marital property (including debts and assets) is split fairly — not necessarily 50/50 — upon divorce. If your spouse acquired a debt prior to the marriage, the court may consider it theirs alone. Speak with a divorce attorney in your state for more information.

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