PATERSON (PIX11) — Despite the obstacles handed to her, Erica Plaza has always kept her eye on the ball.

The Paterson mom has raised three sons on her own, seeing them thrive and move on to big things. 
Now she’s taking the plunge and heading back into the classroom.

“Now that my son, the little one, is going to college — he’s moving out now — I have the time to dedicate to me,” she told PIX11. “All my boys are going on their own journey, so now it’s my turn.”

Plaza is among the many Paterson residents taking advantage of a new opportunity being offered at Passaic County Community College. Residents in the county who make less than $80,000 annually are now eligible to attend PCCC tuition free.

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh applauded the announcement by the college, which has its main campus just around the block from City hall. The funds, which will come from the Community College Opportunity grant, will cover any tuition and fees that are not already covered by a student’s other financial aid.

Applicants must meet the salary income requirement, be a Passaic County resident, enroll in six or more credits and complete the financial aid application

In Paterson, less than 12 percent of residents hold a degree in higher education and it’s why officials hope this program becomes a game changer for the community.

Applicants can now sign up on the PCCC website.