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A DREAM come true: NJ Gov. Phil Murphy makes state aid available to undocumented students

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(Newark, NJ, May 10, 2018) –Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor welcomed New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, scores of undocumented students, and their campus and community supporters for the signing of historic legislation ensuring financial aid equity for Dreamers in the state of New Jersey. With the stroke of a pen, Murphy made New Jersey just the ninth state in the nation to make both the in-state tuition rate and state-funded financial aid available to Dreamers. (DREAM stands for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which is a temporary bill protecting undocumented migrants, who arrived in the United States as children, on their path to legal citizenship.)

Cantor, who co-chairs the steering committee of The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a national group of more than 350 college and university presidents working to increase public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact students, campuses and communities, underlined the extent of support for Dreamers nationwide. “The breadth of support for Dreamers among the Alliance membership – expressed in opinion pieces, in Amicus briefs, in visits to Congress – is matched only by the majority of Americans who also want to assure that Dreamers can continue to pursue their education, jobs, and military service, and continue to help their families and communities prosper,” she said in her opening remarks.

Joining Murphy and Cantor for the signing at the Paul Robeson Campus Center yesterday were Rutgers-Newark Dreamer and student leader Esder Chong, Plainfield, New Jersey high school Dreamer Maria del Cielo Mendez, the legislation’s primary sponsor New Jersey State Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, and State Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer. Standing in support with them were other sponsors of the legislation including State Senators Sandra B. Cunningham and Nellie Pou as well as Assembly Members Annette Quijano and Mila M. Jasey, along with members of community group Make the Road New Jersey and Local 32BJ SEIU. 
 
“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,” said Murphy, prior to signing bill S-699 into law. “These young people came to this country as children, were educated in our schools, and are just as American as anyone else. I’m proud to sign this legislation to help these students achieve their educational goals and their pursuit of a successful future.”
 
Under the new law, students who meets the requirements established under the in-state tuition law signed in 2013, qualify for and may participate in any student financial aid program administered by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) or the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE).

These requirements include:

  • attending high school in New Jersey for three or more years;
  • graduating from a New Jersey high school or receiving the equivalent of a high school diploma;
  • registering or enrolling in a public institution of higher education no earlier than the 2013-2014 academic year;
  • filing an affidavit stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his immigration status.

Cantor sees this moment as an important step toward achieving our nation’s potential, saying that Dreamers “represent the diversity bonus that will define the prosperity of our knowledge economy in the decades ahead, just as it has always given life and strength to our communities over centuries and embodied our country’s founding democratic principle of E pluribus Unum—out of many, one,” and that the new law takes us “one big step closer – at least in NJ – to enacting that inclusive vision.” 

In addition to New Jersey, California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Washington, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. also make in-state tuition and financial aid available to Dreamers . Dreamers can apply for New Jersey state financial aid at: www.hesaa.org/njalternativeapplication.aspx

Watch the bill signing ceremony in its entirety