New Jersey to Offer In-State Tuition to Undocumented Immigrants

New Jersey will finally move forward with allowing some undocumented immigrants raised in the United States to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, following a long tussle back and forth about the legislation.

However, Governor Chris Christie is nixing an important piece of the legislation that would have awarded state financial aid to undocumented immigrants. Democrats had fought for the state financial aid to be included but lost, the Star-Ledger reported. Some states with similar in-state tuition laws do award state financial aid. Undocumented immigrants cannot qualify for federal aid.

The legislation would give the in-state tuition benefit to those immigrants who are graduates of New Jersey high schools and attended school in the state for at least three years, the Star-Ledger reported.

Christie said that he was committed to “tuition equality,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Despite making that statement, he had been criticized previously when it appeared that he would not support the legislation.

“”These young men and women of our state – whom we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their K-12 education – we’re now going to give them an opportunity in an affordable way to be able to continue their education,” he said.

The Inquirer reported that of the 15 other states offering in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, the states of Texas, California and New Mexico offer state financial aid.

Upon the news, activist Giancarlo Tello — an undocumented immigrant from Peru — said he could now afford to attend college. He said he would “begrudgingly” accept an agreement without financial aid.

Related Links:

“Chris Christie and N.J. Democrats Reach Agreement on DREAM Act,” Star-Ledger.

“Deal Clears Way for N.J. ‘Dream Act,” Philadelphia Inquirer.

“North Jersey Student Living in U.S. Illegally pushes for tuition bill,” North Jersey.com

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Colorado Considers In-State Tuition For Undocumented College Students

For the seventh consecutive year, activists are fighting for passage of legislation that would provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students attending Colorado’s public colleges and universities.

Much like the long-debated federal Dream Act, the measure has repeatedly failed. But this year, Democrats are hopeful that the legislation, dubbed ASSET (Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow) will finally pass, since the party now controls both the House and Senate. Supporters of the bill held a press conference Tuesday, announcing its introduction in the state Senate. Students, educators and elected officials attended the event. Supporters include Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

If ASSET passed, Colorado would join other states providing in-state rates to immigrants, including Texas and California. In November, voters approved a Maryland ‘Dream Act’ law. The bill would provide in-state tuition to students who attended  high school in the state for at least three years before graduating or earning a GED. The proposal does not include providing state financial aid.

Last June, the board of trustees of the Metropolitan State University of Denver, a public institution, decided to establish a non-resident, Colorado graduate tuition rate last year benefiting undocumented immigrants. The university’s decision was controversial, and even spurred critics to accuse leaders of defying state law. The Denver Post reported that 237 students enrolled under the new rate last fall.

Related Links:

“ASSET backers upbeat, confident.” EdNews Colorado.

“ASSET Bill is Reintroduced in Colorado Senate to Give In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students.” The Huffington Post.  

– “Supporters of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants hope 7th time is the charm.” The Denver Post.

– “A College Lifts a Hurdle for Illegal Immigrants.” The New York Times.

Washington State Legislators Want Financial Aid for Undocumented College Students

Washington State provides undocumented immigrant college students in-state tuition, and now some state lawmakers are pushing to provide more financial assistance to undocumented students.

The Seattles Times reports that Wash. State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said in a statement that he plans to push for state-funded financial aid for undocumented immigrants.  California, New Mexico and Texas make state aid available to undocumented college students. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid.

“I feel so strongly about the justice and need for this that I plan to make passage one of my top legislative priorities in 2013,” Murray said in the statement.

The proposal could be a tough sell amidst a tough economy. And the  newspaper reports that about 32,000 students eligible for Washington’s State Need Grants are not receiving assistance because there’s not enough money.

Related Links:

– “Legislators to seek state aid for undocumented students.” The Seattle Times.

– “College Board releases resource guide for undocumented immigrant students.” Latino Ed Beat.

– “Students in Texas Illegally are Eligible for State Aid.” The Texas Tribune.

– “Jerry Brown signs California Dream Act.” The Los Angeles Times.

College Board Releases Resource Guide for Undocumented Immigrant Students

For the first time, the College Board has released a resource guide intended to help undocumented immigrant students seeking to pursue a college education.

The guide includes information on college admission, financial aid,  scholarships and support groups for students residing in states that provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrant students attending public colleges and universities. Summaries of the states’ in-state tuition laws and how to qualify also are included. Web site links and email contacts for various support organizations and information sources located in those states are provided, too.

The report was released on Thursday at the organization’s “Preparate” conference in Miami. The College Board organization administers the SAT exams and the Advanced Placement program.

The guide does not include state-specific resources for students residing in areas without in-state tuition laws on the books. It also does not address the policies of private universities.

Fourteen states currently have laws that allow undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition. The state-specific resources listed in the guide cover eleven of those states: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Despite backlash against undocumented immigrants in many parts of the country, some states have expanded benefits for such students. Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island just passed in-state tuition laws in 2011. In addition, California and Illinois have expanded undocumented students’ access to state financial aid programs.

In much of the United States, undocumented immigrant students must pay higher out-of-state tuition rates that can make it difficult to pursue a higher education, particularly because they cannot qualify for federal financial aid.  However, a number of universities have decided to provide financial aid to undocumented students with their own institutional funds.

The guide was created by Alejandra Rincon, an immigrant rights activist who holds a doctorate in education administration from the University of Texas. The document’s release comes as the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant students, has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress. The College Board organization strongly supports the act, and submitted statements in support of its passage when Senate hearings were held last year.

There has been some political movement around these issues. On Wednesday, Florida Republican representative David Rivera introduced an alternative, the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act, or STARS, which would allow undocumented students brought to the United States at a young age to apply for a five-year non-immigrant status.

Related Links:

– “Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students,” The College Board. 

“Young illegal immigrants coming out of the shadows.” The Associated Press.

“Florida Republican introduces DREAM Act alternative in House.” The Hill.

– “Almost-deported valedictorian Daniela Pelaez helps introduce immigration reform bill.” MSNBC.com.

“Colleges look at policies for illegal immigrants.” USA Today.