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Immigrants living here illegally might soon be able to receive financial aid for college in New Jersey, thanks to a financial aid bill approved in March. The bill, known as S-699, passed through the Democrat-controlled state Senate after a 26-10 vote.
The History of Helping Unauthorized Immigrants Go to College in New Jersey
In 2013, state politicians created a new rule which let unauthorized immigrants pay in-state rates for tuition if they wanted to attend a college or university in New Jersey.
However, they weren’t allowed to receive financial aid to help them with their college costs. Legislation introduced in 2013 that would have allowed immigrants here illegally to seek financial aid in New Jersey was shot down by Gov. Chris Christie.
With Gov. Phil Murphy at the helm now in New Jersey, another push has been made to allow unauthorized immigrants access to financial aid for colleges in the state through S-699. Unlike Christie, Murphy has been positive about the measure. But before it reaches him for his signature, the bill must find approval in the state Assembly, which is also controlled by Democrats.
To go along with this bill, another bill, S-700, was also passed by the New Jersey Senate. This bill would allow college financial aid eligibility to children who were born to illegal immigrants.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lauded the Senate for its approval of the legislation.
“Today, the Senate sent a clear message that all of New Jersey’s students should have access to financial aid, no matter their immigration status,” ACLU-NJ senior staff attorney Farrin Anello said in a press release.
Who Could Benefit From This?
This legislation only allows certain students to be eligible for financial aid for colleges in New Jersey. They must have been students at a New Jersey high school for at least three years to qualify. They must also have obtained a GED or a high school diploma in New Jersey.
They must file documents with the college of their choice, stating their intention to legalize their immigration status at some point.
How much unauthorized immigrants could receive would depend on what their need is. It could potentially be enough to handle most of their tuition and associated fees, putting college within grasp even for the lowest-income students.
While qualifying immigrants would be able to apply for financial aid in New Jersey, they still aren’t eligible to seek funds from the federal government. That would include federal student loans or Pell Grants.
What Could This Mean for Taxpayers?
Regardless of where they stand on the topic of unauthorized immigrants being allowed in the U.S., all taxpayers in New Jersey would have to shoulder the financial burden of this legislation. Although exact figures would depend on how many immigrants are awarded financial aid from the state, estimates put the cost of this program at approximately $4.47 million per year in taxpayer money.
Author: Mike Brown
In his role at LendEDU, Mike uses data, usually from surveys and publicly-available resources, to identify emerging personal finance trends and tell unique stories. Mike’s work, featured in major outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, provides consumers with a personal finance measuring stick and can help them make informed finance decisions.