TRENTON – A Democratic lawmaker introduced a bill Friday that would guarantee in-state tuition rates for children of immigrants who were born in the Untied States.
Bill A3162, the “Higher Education Citizenship Equality Act,” would allow college-bound students who were born in the United States and are New Jersey residents to apply for state tuition assistance they would otherwise be ineligible for because of their parents’ immigration status.
“With this bill, we hope to address the difficult and unfair situation faced by students who were born in the United States and are New Jersey residents, but don’t qualify for state student tuition assistance programs or the in-state undergraduate tuition rate upon enrollment in a public institution of higher education due to their parents’ immigration status,” said Assemblywoman Marlene Caride, (D-36), of Ridgefield, in a statement. “College is terribly expensive. We should be looking for ways to make it more affordable for our students, not costlier.”
The inability to qualify is due to the fact that the student is considered a dependent because he or she is under age 24, and eligibility for state student aid or the in-state tuition rate for dependent students is determined by the domicile status of their parents.
The parents of these students are unable to establish domicile in New Jersey either because they do not have legal status in this country or they entered the country on a nonimmigrant visa.
A3162 provides that a dependent student will be domiciled in the state for the purposes of determining eligibility for a state student loan, grant, or scholarship and eligibility for the in-state undergraduate tuition rate if the student:
- is a United States citizen;
- has resided in New Jersey for a period of not less than 12 consecutive months immediately prior to the academic period for which state student assistance is being requested or, in the case of the undergraduate tuition rate, 12 consecutive months before first enrolling in a public institution; and
- the student’s parent or guardian provides the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority with documentation that the parent or guardian has filed a New Jersey and federal income tax return, or with evidence of withholding of income tax, in the case of determining eligibility for a state student loan, grant, or scholarship. In the case of determining eligibility for the in-state undergraduate tuition rate, the student’s parent or guardian must provide the public institution of higher education with copies of any New Jersey and federal income tax return filed by the parent or guardian, or evidence of withholding of income tax for the most recent tax year.
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Higher Education Committee.