OLR Bill Analysis

SB 398 (File 545, as amended by Senate "A")*



This bill extends, to certain individuals who lack legal immigration status, eligibility for institutional financial assistance to attend an in-state public higher education institution. Beginning with the 2016 fall semester, 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). The DACA requirement applies only for the 2016-17 academic year; beginning with the 2017 fall semester, students need only to qualify for in-state tuition.

Under the bill, institutional financial assistance consists of (1) tuition waivers and remissions, (2) grants for educational expenses, and (3) student employment. The assistance is funded by public higher education institutions' tuition revenue. The bill specifies that it is not intended to require or compel an institution to match the amount of federal student aid that such students would receive if they were eligible for federal student aid.

The bill requires UConn and the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR), by January 1, 2016, to establish procedures and develop forms to enable the newly eligible students to apply for and receive institutional financial assistance. It allows UConn and BOR to adopt any policies necessary to implement the bill.

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)).

*Senate Amendment “A” replaces the original bill (File 545), which made students accepted into DACA eligible for any state financial assistance program for higher education.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

DACA is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security initiative 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 United States (a) on June 15, 2012 and (b) at the time he or she requested deferred action;

3. came to the United States before turning age 16 and has continuously resided in the United States 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, with limited exceptions, eligibility for in-state tuition is based on an applicant's domicile, which is his or her “true, fixed and permanent home” and the place where he or she intends to remain and return to when he or she leaves (CGS 10a-28). One of the exceptions allows a person, except a nonimmigrant alien (someone with a visa permitting temporary entrance to the country for a specific purpose), to qualify 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 (File 416, as amended by House “A”), which the House passed, 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.


Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

Joint Favorable