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Senate: Student immigrants pay in-state tuition

Glenn Townes | 11/21/2013, 3:10 p.m.

As expected, earlier this week, the state Senate approved a bill that allows New Jersey residents who were brought to the Garden State illegally as children to pay in-state tuition fees to attend colleges, officials announced in Trenton.

The measure passed by a 25-12 margin and permits student immigrants to attend any state college or university at the much cheaper in-state tuition rate. The Assembly passed a similar measure earlier this year; however, the legislation did not include a stipulation regarding the disbursement of financial aid to student immigrants. The initial Assembly version of the bill required student immigrants to submit an affidavit verifying that they have filed or are in the process of completing an application for legalized immigration status.

Additionally, immigrants must have attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years, earned a diploma or completed a GED program. Incoming Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said various amendments would be added to the existing bill.

The measure has a few proponents, including Eric Straub of New Brunswick, who said, “This is not a bill for aid; this is just to give children brought here by their parents the ability to pay the same rate as everyone else!”

It’s unclear if Gov. Chris Christie will sign the bill once it hits his desk in the next several weeks. However, some Republican senators argue the state does not have enough resources to sufficiently accommodate students who are state residents, let alone those who are not legal residents.