New Jersey Dreamers Get Tuition Wish

Dreamers finally get their wish in New Jersey.  The New Jersey Dream Act was just signed by Governor Chris Christie.  It allows students without legal status, who were brought to this country by their parents when they were young, to qualify in most cases for in-state tuition rates at New Jersey colleges and universities.

How it works

The bill gives immigrants who graduated from a New Jersey high school after at least three years of attendance so-called “tuition equality” with other state residents.  The Dreamers can’t get state financial aid under the compromise bill, but it’s still a step forward.

The Dream Act took effect with Christie’s signing.  That means that the in-state rates will apply for the upcoming spring semester.  Christie described the bill as a way to allow New Jersey to recoup the millions of dollars it has already invested in the Dreamers with pre-kindergarten through high school education.  This allows them, he said, “an affordable way to be able to continue their education.”

New Jersey is now one of eighteen states that gives in-state tuition to students without legal status.  Only three of those states — California, New Mexico and Texas — allow those students access to financial aid.

The state’s Dream Act supporters said they would continue to fight to give undocumented students the same access to state financial aid as citizens. They cited the “skyrocketing cost of a college education.” Christie said he didn’t want New Jersey to become a magnet state attracting undocumented students with its generosity but said, “I care about taking care of New Jersey kids whether they’re citizens or undocumented.”