OLR Bill Analysis

SB 398

AN ACT ASSISTING STUDENTS ACCEPTED INTO THE DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS PROGRAM WITH THE COST OF COLLEGE.

SUMMARY:

This bill extends, to certain individuals who lack legal immigration status, eligibility for state financial assistance to attend an in-state public higher education institution. The bill extends eligibility for the assistance to students who (1) have been accepted into the federal government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and (2) qualify for in-state tuition at the state's public colleges and universities (see BACKGROUND). Under federal law, a person without legal immigration status is eligible for certain state and local public benefits, including postsecondary education benefits, only through the enactment of a state law that affirmatively provides for such eligibility (8 USC 1621(d)).

Under the bill, financial assistance includes (1) tuition waivers and remissions, (2) grants for educational expenses, and (3) student employment. Such assistance is funded by public higher education institutions' tuition revenues. The bill also applies to other financial assistance programs that support attendance at a public higher education institution (e.g., the Governor's Scholarship).

The bill requires the Office of Higher Education (OHE), by August 1, 2015, to develop forms and procedures for DACA students to apply for and participate in a state financial assistance program. It allows OHE to adopt regulations to implement the bill's provisions. The regulations must address the application process and eligibility for the financial assistance.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

BACKGROUND

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

DACA is an initiative by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in which the department uses its prosecutorial discretion to defer, for two years, removal proceedings against certain people who lack legal immigration status. The two-year period may be renewed.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, currently a person is eligible for DACA if he or she:

1. was younger than age 31 as of June 15, 2012 and did not have legal immigration status as of that date;

2. was physically present in the U.S. (a) on June 15, 2012 and (b) at the time he or she requested deferred action;

3. came to the U.S. before turning 16 and has continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;

4. (a) is currently in school or has graduated or obtained a high school certificate of completion or (b) is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces; and

5. (a) has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors and (b) is not otherwise a threat to national security or public safety.

In-State Tuition

By law, a person, except a nonimmigrant alien (i.e., someone with a visa permitting temporary entrance to the country for a specific purpose), qualifies for in-state tuition if he or she:

1. resides in Connecticut (i.e., maintains a continuous and permanent physical presence, except for short, temporary absences);

2. attended an in-state educational institution and completed at least four years of high school in Connecticut;

3. graduated from a high school or the equivalent in Connecticut; and

4. is registered as an entering student, or is currently a student at, UConn, a Connecticut State University, a community-technical college, or Charter Oak State College.

Students without legal immigration status who meet the above criteria must file an affidavit with the institution stating that they have applied to legalize their immigration status or will do so as soon as they are eligible (CGS 10a-29(9)).

Related Bill

HB 6844, reported favorably by the Higher Education Committee, reduces, from four years to two, the number of years of high school education that a student without legal immigration status must complete in Connecticut to receive in-state tuition benefits.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

17

Nay

1

(03/24/2015)