Bill advances on tuition for immigrants

Posted: June 29, 2013

TRENTON - A New Jersey Senate committee approved a bill Thursday that would allow those who are in the country illegally to qualify for in-state tuition at colleges and universities.

The measure remains stalled in the Assembly and it may not go before a Senate budget panel until late August. The bill was intended to take effect for the fall semester.

To be eligible, a student must have attended a New Jersey public high school for at least three years and have a diploma or the equivalent. They also must submit an affidavit stating they have filed or will file an application to legalize their immigration status as soon as they are eligible.

The Senate Higher Education Committee approved the measure after hearing from students who struggled to pay tuition at out-of-state rates.

One student said education was her only way to escape an abusive home. She said she could not have afforded college without the aid of scholarships.

"My education was my lifeline," 21-year-old Kamika Bennet of Passaic told the panel.

Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D., Hudson), chair of the committee, told the panel that people in the United States illegally who want to go to college and obtain jobs should not be denied an opportunity to go to college because they cannot afford it. Cunningham said the bill is essential to allow people to "truly experience the American way."

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