Bonanza for Illegals: N.J. Governor Grants Them College Aid and In-State Tuition
'How are these changes fair to families playing by the rules?' asks a mom of the Garden State's law
Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation last week making New Jersey one of the latest states to help cover the costs of college tuition for illegal immigrants.
Five years ago, the state legislature passed a bill allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition; but former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, vetoed the part of the bill that would have allowed those students to receive state financial aid.
Now, Gov. Murphy has asserted that being a legal citizen is not paramount to tapping into the state’s taxpayer-funded education coffers. Instead, it’s all about his brand of morality.
“Tuition equity and equal access to financial aid are moral standards that we as public officials must uphold for all New Jersey students, whether they were born here or not,” Murphy states on New Jersey’s official website.
“These young people came to this country as children,” the governor continues, “were educated in our schools, and are just as American as anyone else.” Except that they’re not legal Americans.
State officials think the program will cost at least $4.5 million in its first year, but readily admit they aren't even sure how many illegal immigrants are actually in the state, reported Campus Reform. The new law is therefore listed as an "indeterminate expenditure increase."
This law was signed even as New Jersey faces an unstable financial future with unfunded pensions, and more.
"New Jersey's public pension system is actually underfunded by $168 billion," noted WNYC.org last year, in part. "And that does not include an additional $85 billion shortfall for the medical benefits of retirees. The bottom line is a state retirement system that faces a future debt of $253 billion."
With this mountain of debt, the governor seriously thinks the Garden State can withstand the financial strain of offering financial aid to illegals?
Under the new law, undocumented students will be eligible for any student financial aid program that is administered by New Jersey's Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) or the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE), Tap Into Newark reported, provided they meet a set of specific requirements.
"That's interesting — both my husband and I work hard and are legal citizens, but because we both work, we qualify for hardly any financial aid for our college-bound child," said one Reading, Massachusetts, mom whose son is attending a New Hampshire college next fall. "How are these changes fair to families who are playing by the rules or for those who are patiently waiting to enter this country legally?"
Another East Coast mom seconded that; she said her family of four qualified for little or no financial aid for their two college-age students.
Students seeking financial assistance under the new law must reportedly attend high school in New Jersey for three or more years. They must graduate from high school or receive a high school equivalent degree, and they must have enrolled in a public college or a university during or after the 2013-2014 academic year.
They must also sign an affidavit indicating their intention to obtain legal status in this country.
These students will also be eligible for sizable scholarships for which they previously did not qualify, thanks to the new law, including the Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) and the NJ Stars program.
"Unfortunately, a number of states have done the same thing," David North, a senior fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, told Campus Reform. "It encourages illegal immigration. That money could be used for U.S. citizens, permanent aliens, or folks in the country legally."
Currently, at least 18 states have provisions allowing for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. Sixteen states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington —extend in-state tuition rates to undocumented students through state legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor with LifeZette.
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