Last Friday, Connecticut became the first state on the East Coast to make undocumented immigrants eligible for financial aid at state-run colleges and universities. Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed Senate Bill 6, which provides undocumented students with the same access to student loans, grants, and scholarships that are available to U.S. Citizen and lawful permanent resident students.
The bill was necessary to overcome federal law, which denies eligibility to individuals who lack legal immigration status for most state and local public benefits, including postsecondary education benefits, absent the enactment of a state law that affirmatively provides for eligibility.
New Jersey is expected to follow Connecticut’s lead. A bill is on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s desk awaiting his signature, that would make undocumented immigrants eligible for state student loans, grants, and scholarships. The controversial bill expands a 2014 New Jersey law that allowed undocumented immigrants to pay in-state resident tuition rates. Governor Murphy is expected to sign the bill into law within the next few days.
New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, like those in Connecticut, must prepare to ensure compliance with the law, if enacted, that mandates consideration of certain forms of financial aid, while not violating federal student financial aid laws and regulations prohibiting federal financial aid to undocumented students.