TRENTON – The Office of Legislative Services seconded a Republican senator’s opposition Monday to the tuition equality bill, which passed the Senate.
Sen. Robert Singer, (R-30), Lakewood, said on the Senate floor before the vote that what supporters of the bill fail to recognize is that there are only so many higher-education slots to go around, and that TAG, the Tuition Aid Grant, is not an open checkbook.
The bill would afford undocumented students the lower, in-state tuition. The Senate bill also includes access to financial aid.
But OLS, in a release issued after the vote, backed Singer’s position.
The department said that tuition revenues are not part of budgeted state expenditures, costs associated with this program would reduce tuition paid to colleges by an as-yet unknowable amount, and could conceivably lead colleges to admit more out-of-state students in order to boost tuition revenue.
“Grant and scholarship programs such as the Tuition Aid Grant Program, the Educational Opportunity Fund, and the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship Programs would require additional funding to accommodate the students newly-eligible under the bill’s provisions,” OLS said in a release.
“The OLS cannot estimate the increase in state expenditures that would be necessary to support these students because there is insufficient information on the number of undocumented students who would meet the varying requirements of the state financial aid programs.
“The OLS also notes that if the appropriations for any of these programs is insufficient to meet the statutory or other benefit level, the amount of financial aid awarded to each student would be reduced.”
However, supporters of the bill argued today that it is a matter of fundamental fairness, and would lead to not only improved individual futures for students who benefit but an overall better future for the state via an improved economy.