State Senate advances bill for financial aid for DACA recipients

Posted: Updated:
TRENTON -

The state Senate passed two bills Monday to allow more students to receive state financial aid when they go to college, regardless of their citizenship status.

High school senior Maria Del Cielo says she was brought to the United States illegally when she was 2 years old. She says that she has spent her last year of high school afraid about what the future may bring.

“You’re having your future right in front of you and then, at the same time, I want to look forward four years from now, but…I have to focus on tomorrow,” she says.

Del Cielo is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and has been accepted to six colleges. But she is not eligible for financial aid.

“Rutgers – three campuses accepted me and it’s just not an option,” Del Cielo says.

The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill five years ago that allowed undocumented students to receive in-state tuition. But former Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the portion of the bill that would have allowed those students to receive state financial aid.

The Office of Legislative Services says that the state spent $425 million on financial aid this fiscal year, about $7,000 per student.

Opponents of the bill say that undocumented students are not entitled to the money.

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