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New Jersey Policy

Updated As Of: April 6, 2017

  • The state of New Jersey provides in-state tuition for eligible undocumented students. However, undocumented students continue to be ineligible for state scholarships and financial aid.
    • S-2479 | Student Eligibility Requirements
      • Attend high school in New Jersey for three or more years
      • Graduate from a high school in New Jersey  or receive the equivalent of a high school diploma
      • Register as an entering student or currently enrolled in a public institution of higher education not earlier than the fall semester of the 2013-2014 academic year
      • File an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status or will file an application as soon as eligible to do so
      • Meet the Department of Homeland Security's eligibility criteria and has applied for or received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.
  • S78 436, introduced in 2004 and 2006, would have allowed in-state tuition for undocumented students but failed to pass.
  • S1760, introduced in 2012, would make U.S. citizens with undocumented parents eligible for in-state tuition and state financial aid and scholarships if they have lived in New Jersey for 12 consecutive months and filed income tax returns. This bill was reffered to the Senate Bufget and Appropriation in 2014.
  • A718, passed in 2012, requires the New Jersey Department of Education to biannually issue a letter to school districts reminding them of their obligation to enroll students regardless of immigration status.
  • S2479 (New Jersey Dream Act), signed into law by Governor Chris Christie December 20, 2013, provides eligible undocumented students with in-state tuition.
  • A2045introduced in January 2014, would establish a DREAM Commision to provide scholarships to children of immigrants and establish training programs which provide information on educational opportunities. This bill was referre to Assembly of Higher Education Committee in 2014.
  • S442, introduced January 14, 2014, would make US citizen students, regardless of their parents' citizenship status, eligible for in-state scholarships, grants, and loans. This bill was referred to to the Senate of Higher Education Committee.
  • S1458 and A1650, introduced in 2016, would extend eligibility for state financial aid to undocumented students who meet certain criteria.  
  • In July 2013, the Newark Police Department became the first New Jersey law enforcement agency to refuse requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain people who have been picked up for minor criminal offenses.

Federal law has been unsuccessful at addressing comprehensive access to postsecondary education for undocumented students. Despite efforts to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, Congress has not addressed the current ambiguous language in IIRIRA regarding undocumented students' eligibility for educational benefits (i.e. in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid programs). Therefore, much of the policy activity regarding postsecondary access for undocumented students has shifted to state and system levels. As a result, state policymakers and higher education institutions take varied approaches to either broadening or restricting access to postsecondary education and educational benefits. Others states have yet to take formal action on this issue, leaving the decision to individual campus leaders.

Under the provisions of this ambiguous policy context, undocumented youth encounter contentious environments with policies that range from inclusive, restrictive, or unstipulated stances.

Inclusive: States with policies that explicitly grant in-state tuition and/or eligibility for public financial aid for undocumented students.

Restrictive: States with policies that explicitly deny eligibility for admission and/or in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Unstipulated: States that do not have stated policies that explicitly address undocumented student access to postsecondary education.

State and system policies are volatile and continuously changing. For the latest, please visit the uLEAD NewsdeskFor information specific to individual state context, click in the subheadings below.