The governor of New Jersey signed a law Wednesday allowing illegal aliens to apply for state financial aid programs to help pay for college beginning this fall, and the state has wasted no time in implementing it.
The New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application for illegal aliens went live on the state’s financial aid website as of Thursday, allowing non-citizens not legally in the country to apply for the same financial aid benefits as U.S. citizens.
Illegal aliens—including Dreamers brought to the U.S. illegally as children—can apply for financial aid if they graduated from a New Jersey high school, attended high school in New Jersey for at least three years, and promise to legalize their immigration status, according to the NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority’s website.
“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,” Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said in a statement shortly after signing the bill Wednesday at a ceremony on the Rutgers University campus in Newark. “By allowing them to not only go to college but to qualify for financial assistance, we are living up to that ideal.”
The New Jersey state Senate and Assembly passed the legislation in April mostly along party lines before it made its way to the governor’s desk.
Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Parsippany), criticized the bill after its passage, saying that being a “compassionate state” does not necessarily mean that the state has to give unlimited government benefits to illegal aliens.
“We are a compassionate state and want to see every student succeed and reach his or her full potential,” Webber said in a statement. “But we and our taxpayers have limited resources, and enormous educational benefits already are provided to non-citizens. Compassion does not compel us to provide limitless public benefits to anyone who finds himself within our borders.”
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), said the legislation was necessary to help students succeed.
“Given the ever-escalating costs, many students, even with in-state tuition rates, are finding college more and more financially unattainable,” Schaer said in a statement. “Making this assistance available will make higher education a reality for these aspiring students.”
New Jersey is the tenth state to allow illegal aliens to obtain financial aid, joining Oregon, Connecticut, Texas, Oklahoma, California, Washington, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Minnesota.