New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy just recently signed a bill into law that will open up state financial aid for unauthorized immigrants.
New Jersey passed a law earlier in May that allows unauthorized immigrants to apply for state financial aid to pay for college. Hours after Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill into law, immigrant borrowers began filling out the updated state financial aid application online, NJ.com reported.
Although advocates have been trying to get this bill passed for some time, several key pointers regarding the law were just recently revealed. One of the main requirements is that unauthorized immigrants – or their parents – must pay taxes if they are to receive in-state financial aid.
During the application process, applicants are asked to provide proof that their family paid their taxes the previous year. This can be a challenge as many immigrants who work illegally don’t have a Social Security number.
But according to the IRS, many unauthorized immigrants do pay taxes every year – collectively, an estimated about $9 billion in total annually – because they hope to one day become U.S. citizens. Immigrants who want to begin paying their taxes can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
The bill also allows immigrants who live here illegally to apply for a number of state scholarship programs. The programs included are the Tuition Aid Grant program, the Educational Opportunity Grant, the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship Programs, and the Governor's Urban Scholarship. However, they are still unable to apply for Pell Grants and other federal programs.
Any financial aid received can be used at either public or private colleges in New Jersey. But the funds are limited to New Jersey and cannot be taken out of state.
Legal residents have to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive financial aid, but unauthorized immigrants bypass this requirement. Instead, they must fill out the state’s eight-page form called the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application.
The cutoff for current students was April 15, but unauthorized immigrants are given extra time to apply for financial aid this year. They are considered new applicants and have until Sept. 15 to apply.
Before they are given access to financial aid, all immigrants of illegal status must sign an affidavit promising to apply for legal status. And male borrowers must prove they are registered with the Selective Service, an agency that collects names in the event of a military draft.
Applicants must also have the equivalent of a high school diploma and they must prove they have been New Jersey residents for at least three years.