Bastarrika, Soto, Gonzalez & Somohano, L.L.P.

Financial aid unrestricted by immigration status in New Jersey

Policy regarding what types of public services undocumented immigrants can access vary from state to state. Recently, a change to New Jersey law was passed that allows for undocumented immigrant students to apply for financial aid as students. Under the new policy, students will be able to receive loans, grants and scholarships regardless of immigration status.

There are a few requirements for any student applying under the new law. First, they must have graduated from a high school in New Jersey after attending high school in the state for at least three years. Male students must also register for Selective Service. Finally, students must sign an affidavit committing to file an application to legalize their immigration status if and when they are eligible to do so.

The new law is an expansion on a piece of legislation passed in 2014. This law allowed undocumented immigrant students who had attended high school in New Jersey to pay in-state tuition fees for state colleges. The move comes in response to colleges which have raised concerns about students who are unable to access education due to fear of reprisals from authorities.

While some immigration policies are matters of federal jurisdiction, laws regarding access to services often are legislated by the state. Undocumented immigrants in New Jersey may have a different experience and face unique challenges or benefits compared to those in other states. For this reason, it is important that those facing legal challenges regarding such issues to work with a lawyer familiar with both state and federal immigration laws.

Source: centraljersey.com, "New Jersey Accepts First Financial Aid Applications from Undocumented Immigrant Students", Raymond G. Lahoud, May 16, 2018

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