TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz and Senate Higher Education Chair Sandra Bolden Cunningham to ensure that New Jersey students born in the United States are provided equal access to college, regardless of their parents’ immigration status, was approved today by a Senate committee.
The Higher Education Citizenship Equality Act would reverse a discriminatory state policy that prevents New Jersey students – who are born in the country and, therefore, are U.S. citizens – from accessing financial aid offered under state tuition assistance programs if their parents are undocumented immigrants. The measure (S-1760) would also provide that New Jersey students born in the United States are eligible for in-state tuition rates, provided they have resided in the state for at least 12 consecutive months prior to enrollment and that their parents submit certain income tax documentation to the institution.
“The practice of denying students state aid based on their parents’ immigration status is discriminatory and unjust,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “It unfairly prevents U.S. citizens from accessing the educational opportunities they are entitled to and that their classmates are being provided. Moreover, this policy is contrary to our goal of ensuring that all students have the tools they need to attain educational success. It is unacceptable and should be corrected.”