After a long and public battle between immigrant advocates and others, New Jersey will now offer its own version of a DREAM Act. Qualified undocumented immigrant students will now be eligible for in-state tuition rates.
Undocumented students are eligible for the discounted tuition rate if they graduated high school in New Jersey after attending for at least three years. The discounted tuition is for students attending public higher educational institutions, including community colleges.
Bill S2479, as the legislation is known, was sponsored by state Democrats with Republican Governor Chris Christie originally opposed to the legislation. Getting the legislation done before the end of the year was critical, so students could qualify for in-state tuition for the 2014-15 academic year.
New Jersey’s legislation will not go as far as to offer state financial aid to the undocumented immigrant student. State Democrats had been advocating for the financial aid benefit but were unsuccessful in their efforts.
Undocumented students, many that were brought to the U.S. as infants, are not eligible for federal aid like the Pell Grants.
Different forms of the DREAM Act and in-state tuition legislation, also known as tuition equality legislation, has been debated in New Jersey since 2003.