New Jersey has awarded more than $3.8 million in college aid to immigrants living in the country illegally under the first year of a program authorizing the grants, a new report says.

The figure was reported Monday by the North Jersey Record. It said 749 students had received the aid in the fall and spring semesters of the 2018-2019 school year — mostly through the New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant program.

The report also said Rutgers students received the most aid — $1.3 million.

 

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law authorizing the aid to immigrants here without authorization last year. The new law makes immigrants brought to the country illegally as children eligible for the same programs, such as Tuition Aid Grants and the Educational Opportunity Fund, as citizens who meet income eligibility thresholds.

They must have attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years, graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey and file an affidavit stating they will file an application to legalize their immigration status. Males must also register for Selective Service.

“We know New Jerseyans support the ability of our DREAMers to not only remain in our state but to become a strong and contributing part of our society and our economy,” Murphy said at the time. “By allowing them to not only go to college but to qualify for financial assistance, we are living up to that ideal.”

Assemblyman Gary Schaer, D-Passaic, said at the time the law enables people to achieve things they otherwise couldn’t afford – and will lead to a better economy and tax revenues.

“Not only are we fulfilling a dream and an aspiration for individuals, but we are underlining the dream that is New Jersey,” Schaer said. “The dream that people will have opportunity. The dream that people will have the ability to achieve their dreams. And the state benefits.”

The law, in addition to allowing TAG awards, lets immigrants in the country without authorization apply for the NJ STARS and NJ STARS II scholarship program, as well as the state's Equal Opportunity Fund, according to the Record report.

Since 2014, unauthorized immigrants have been eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at New Jersey public colleges. A bill introduced this year would extend the same eligibility to immigrants here legally, but not permanently.

— With previous reporting by Michael Symons

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