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New Jersey Gives In-State Tuition to Some Undocumented Immigrants

in tuition.jpgCollege aged students who were illegally brought to the United States as children will now be able to qualify for in-state tuition in New Jersey. A recent bill, which was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie, was lauded as a way to equalize opportunities. Christie justified his support of the bill, saying that the New Jersey taxpayer will also benefit from the move. Prerequisites for the in-state tuition will include having to attend at least three years of high school in New Jersey and graduating from high school or receiving a high school equivalency.

Perhaps addressing his reasoning to the skeptics, Christie cited the fact that New Jersey spends $17,700 every year educating the state’s children, including undocumented students. Citing the expenditure as an “investment,” Christie said that allowing the students to attend New Jersey colleges at the in-state rate is one of the best ways get a return on that investment. The savings students will enjoy by paying the in-state rate as opposed to the out-of-state tuition rate could be significant. The annual savings from qualifying for in-state tuition could amount to more than $10,000 per year.

Despite Christie’s support of the bill, it did not pass in its original form. The bill originally contained language which would have allowed the students to receive state financial aid if they qualified under state income guidelines. Christie reportedly would not sign the bill if such a provision were included, so it was removed. This move may have been meant to help silence critics of the bill, but they many were nonetheless unhappy with the portion that did pass.

Opponents to the bill claim that the legislation will divert university entry positions away from students who are in the U.S. legally, consume valuable resources, and even encourage more illegal immigration. On the other hand students who would benefit from the law say that without the change they faced curtailed prospects after graduating from high school, arguing that the law will open up a new world of possibilities for them. They also argue that getting a college education will help them prepare to enter into the work force, which will mean that they are less of a burden on society at large, and are more likely to contribute.

Those who advocated for the bill, many of them spending upwards of a decade fighting for its passage, had mixed feelings as a result of the content of the final bill. They celebrated the bill’s passage as historic, yet the fact that the financial aid provision was stripped left many feeling disappointed. Many are celebrating the bill’s passage as the first step in the fight.

As can be seen from the New Jersey case, the United States immigration situation is currently undergoing tremendous change. It is advisable that every undocumented worker in the U.S. have access to a qualified immigration attorney. Lyttle Law Firm, an Austin immigration law firm, fights for you. Contact us by visiting our web site or calling us at 512-215-5225.