OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 147

AN ACT ASSISTING STUDENTS WITHOUT LEGAL IMMIGRATION STATUS WITH THE COST OF COLLEGE.

SUMMARY:

Beginning with the fall 2017 semester, this bill extends, to certain students who lack legal immigration status, eligibility for institutional financial assistance to attend an in-state public higher education institution. The bill extends eligibility for the assistance to these students, to the extent allowed by federal law, if they qualify for in-state tuition at the state's public colleges and universities (see BACKGROUND).

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 and, under existing law, is available to U.S. citizens and certain “eligible noncitizens” (e.g., permanent legal residents). The bill specifies that it does not require or compel an institution to match the amount of federal student aid that students without legal immigration status 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, 2017, 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 ineligible for most state and local public benefits, including postsecondary education benefits, unless a state law affirmatively provides for such eligibility (8 USC 1621(d)).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016

BACKGROUND

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 exception allows a person, except for certain nonimmigrant aliens (i.e., people with a visa permitting temporary entrance to the country for a specific purpose), to qualify for in-state tuition if he or she meets the following criteria:

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 two 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)).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

11

Nay

6

(03/03/2016)