Thursday, New Jersey Senate Bill 2479 (S2479), which provides illegal aliens taxpayer-funded, in-state tuition rates at New Jersey public colleges and universities, was heard by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee at the State House Annex in Trenton. S2479 will come up for a vote in the Senate on Monday, November 18.
While all nonimmigrant aliens, including foreign students lawfully present on student visas, are excluded from receiving in-state tuition rates, under this bill, illegal alien students would become eligible for the tuition subsidy. S2479 seeks to expand residency status to all illegal aliens who:
1) Attended high school in New Jersey for three or more years;
2) Graduated from a high in New Jersey or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in New Jersey;
3) Registered as an entering student or are currently enrolled in a public institution of higher education not earlier than the fall semester of 2013;
4) File an affidavit stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his immigration status or will file an application as soon as he is eligible to do so; and
S2479 Will Hurt New Jersey Taxpayers
Universities are able to provide citizen and legal resident students in-state tuition rates because public colleges and universities are heavily subsidized by taxpayer money. The largest public university in the State of New Jersey, Rutgers University, provides its New Jersey resident students with an in-state tuition rate $14,000 less than the rate for nonresident students. Illegal aliens currently pay nonresident rates. With an estimated illegal alien population of over 525,000, New Jersey’s state universities could lose millions of dollars a year.
As of 2010, FAIR estimates the cost of illegal immigration to the taxpayers of the state of New Jersey to be around $3,477,539,163 a year. Granting in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens will only serve to burden the state more.
S2479 Will Hurt New Jersey Students
Many New Jersey colleges and universities are already experiencing budget crises as a result of the weakened economy. Rutgers University’s budget was cut by over $29 million over the past three fiscal years, forcing the school to increase tuition, reduce the number of classes available to students, limit staff, freeze faculty salaries, and reduce dining hall hours, along with countless other subtractions. Granting in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens would only serve to further damage and strain delicate budgets and reduce the quality of education New Jersey’s public colleges and universities can provide.
S2479 is Unfair to U.S. Citizens and Legal Residents
As a result of budget cuts and snowballing competition, many public colleges and universities are increasingly limiting enrollment. By extending in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, which effectively provides a financial incentive for them to enroll in colleges and universities, some U.S. citizens and residents with legal status will be denied the opportunity of a higher education. Subsidizing illegal aliens, in effect, punishes citizens and legal residents
S2479 Rewards Lawbreakers
S2479 incentivizes illegal behavior. The laws of the United States prohibit illegal aliens from residing in our country. However, every day illegal aliens make a conscious decision to ignore these laws. Rewarding this behavior through legislation such as S2479 is unacceptable.
S2479 is Unfair to Foreign Students Lawfully Present on Visas
Foreign students, who lack permanent resident status, are required to pay non-resident tuition rates. What kind of message does it send to these students who play by the rules that they must pay higher tuition rates than their compatriots who cheat the system? Some students might be tempted to overstay their visas to receive the tuition break. New Jersey should implement policies that reward those who abide by our laws, not those who break them.
New Jersey’s schools, students, and taxpayers should not be made to bear such a burden, especially considering illegal aliens have flagrantly broken our immigration laws and have no legal right to reside in the U.S.