TRENTON — New Jersey gave $1.6  in college financial aid to 513 students known as "dreamers" for the 2018-19 fall semester.

The law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy last May makes residents 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.

David J. Socolow, executive director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, called the financial aid a "life-changing opportunity."

“The successes of these first 513 students, who are now attending county colleges, state colleges and universities, and independent institutions around the state, will have a positive impact on countless additional lives," Socolow  said.

The program received 1,209 applications for the aid.

Applicants 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.

A breakdown of where the aid went showed that among all schools 150 Rutgers students received the most aid at $623,109. Saint Peters University students received $132,000 worth of aid and $40,031 worth of aid went to Bergen Community College, the most for community colleges.

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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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