Despite landing among the top five states for highest student debt, New Jersey spent nearly $4 million in financial aid for illegal aliens to attend college during both the fall and spring semesters of the 2018-19 school year, according to the North Jersey Record.
Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie opened the benefits spigot in 2013 by signing into law a bill allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates, but he would not agree to full financial aid benefits. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy had no reservations and last year agreed to a proposal to grant illegal aliens equal access to state financial aid because, he said, they are “just as American as anyone else.”
Murphy’s rhetorical naturalization is interesting considering one of the eligibility requirements for a financial grant is that the illegal immigrant sign an affidavit saying they will take the steps to be a legal citizen.
While Murphy and backers of this reckless policy feel good about “welcoming” illegal aliens into their communities, they conveniently ignore the low-income students who might be denied an opportunity to attend college or the 64 percent of students in the state who graduate with debt.
The data released by New Jersey’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority showed that most of the $3.8 million spent was doled out under the New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant program, which awards grants depending on financial need and available funding.
Rutgers University, which received $1.3 million of the total $3.8 million, already offers privately-funded scholarships to illegal immigrant students. So, why do they need to be given taxpayer funds? Aren’t the plethora of foundation grants and private scholarships available to illegal aliens?
Murphy has claimed that spending state resources on illegal aliens is a matter of equity, but what about first fixing the inequities in New Jersey’s already broken system?
The authors of report released in January by the liberal think tank Education Reform Now, contend that the Garden state “provides wildly inequitable levels of state operating funds and financial aid to public and non-profit private state colleges with no articulated policy rationale.”
Furthermore, the report says that while it New Jersey has one of the more largest state financial aid programs in the country, it is “poorly targeted and generates less efficient results” than a programs one-tenth the size.
While proponents are right to note that in overall budgetary terms $3.8 million is a small amount, they are wrong to omit the potential for massive growth in spending on students in the country (and the state) illegally.
In 2018, the state legislature estimated that approximately 600 illegal aliens would submit applications, so the total cost would be $4.47 million, or about 1 percent of the total $425.9 million financial aid budget for college students in fiscal year 2019.
But, that estimate was based on the number of illegal aliens in New Jersey in 2015. The legislative analysis even conceded that costs would “increase to the extent that the access to the State’s student assistance programs would encourage additional individuals to enroll in an institution of higher education.”
And with no cap on the number of applicants, that $5 million estimate likely will be exceeded in coming years. It might make Gov. Murphy and proponents of free college for all-comers feel good, but graduates with enormous student debt or the parents who cannot fulfill their child’s dream of an education might feel differently.