(RIDGEFIELD) – Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic) today praised the decision by the New Jersey Appellate Court in favor of a U.S. born, New Jersey resident who was denied state financial aid based on her mother’s immigration status. The court ruled this week that the student was indeed eligible for aid, and that the state’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESSA) misused the law when it denied her application last year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the appeal with a Rutgers University legal clinic on her behalf.
Caride introduced legislation (A-3162) in June to address this unjust interpretation of the law, and was pleased that the court decision reinforced the intent of her bill, which is to allow college bound students who are natural-born citizens of the United States and are New Jersey residents to apply for state tuition assistance they would otherwise be ineligible for because of their parents’ immigration status.
“This was a just decision for a very unjust situation. This student had the right like every other young American citizen heading to college to apply for financial assistance, but she was denied. I’m thrilled for her and all others who may have feared their dreams of pursuing a college degree dashed because of HESSA’s unfair, and according to the court, askew interpretation of the law,” said Caride. “These grants were created to help New Jersey students who want to attend college. Punishing a segment of them because of circumstances that should have no bearing on their eligibility merely prevents them from becoming independent, self-sufficient, productive members of our state. I’m glad that the appellate court recognized this injustice and sided with students who were unfairly affected.”
“College tuition costs are exorbitant and are expected to keep rising. Many families depend on federal and state financial aid to afford college for their children,” added Caride. “I’m glad that young people in New Jersey with college aspirations can now rest a little easier, knowing that they will be able to apply for state tuition assistance, based on their own citizenship and residency status. This court decision is a victory for all students, especially the young woman who fought back and won.”