Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee


Bill No.:




Vote Date:


Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:


File No.:


Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee


To allow for students who lack legal immigration status to be able to access institutional financial assistance. Undocumented students, as part of their tuition, pay into a pool of funds designated for financial assistance which they are currently unable to access. This legislation would allow undocumented students the ability to apply for and receive financial aid from the institutional aid pool, which they already pay into, making a college education a more attainable goal for this group of Connecticut students.


Mark Ojakian, President, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities: President Ojakian testified in favor of this bill. He believes that with this legislation our institutions would be better able to address the needs of a presently underserved population, and would also bring greater justice and equality to students within Connecticut's academic system. President Ojakian mentioned Public Act 11-43, which allowed undocumented students to receive access to in-state tuition costs, and noted that while this was a step in the right direction, it was only one of many barriers which still need to be knocked down to assist undocumented students in furthering their education. President Ojakian noted that access to institutional aid, which is determined through the FAFSA form, is often the determining factor in whether or not potential students will attend universities. Undocumented students are unable to submit a FAFSA, and are not eligible for intuitional aid as a result. President Ojakian suggested that these students might benefit if an unofficial FAFSA was implemented similar to the one which currently exists in Texas, though he is understanding of the current fiscal climate and realizes this might not be possible this year.



Mr. Bhatt submitted testimony in favor of this bill, reasoning that many federal loans and scholarship programs require a social security number, and as such, these scholarship programs discriminate against undocumented students. By allowing undocumented students the opportunity to apply for institutional aid, Connecticut can assist ambitious students who dream of attending college.

Subira Gordon, Legislative Analyst, African American Affairs Commission

Ms. Gordon submitted testimony in favor of this bill, as the African American Affairs Commission has shown a commitment to the citizens of Connecticut by working towards “a debt free higher education system in the state”, especially through their involvement with the Connecticut Higher Ed not Debt Coalition. Ms. Gordon believes that we can reduce the number of students who fall victim to high interest rates by “extending in state tuition to these students”, and allowing access to higher education for a greater number of people than is currently served.

Representative Roland J. Lemar, Representative of the 96th District

Representative Lemar submitted written testimony in support of this bill, as he believes that extending eligibility for undocumented students to receive institutional aid is not only the morally responsible thing to do, but in doing so, Connecticut can reduce the number of people “leaving the state to attend universities and build their careers elsewhere”. Representative Lemar asserts that by allowing undocumented students the ability to apply for institutional aid, Connecticut is encouraging these students to continue their education and is an investment in Connecticut's future.


Senator Looney testified in favor of this bill, and noted the passage of Public Act 11-43 in 2011, which he found to be “compassionate, fair, and pragmatic” as it allowed for students who met specific criteria to pay the more affordable in-state tuition rates at Connecticut's colleges. In 2015, Public Act 15-82 reduced the necessary high school education certain students needed to receive in-state tuition rates from 4 years to 2 years. Senator Looney believes that the adoption of this piece of legislation would be the next step towards equity. Additionally, Senator Looney asserts that “students who attain degrees from public universities and colleges in Connecticut are more likely to build careers in Connecticut.”, so if we wish to help build Connecticut's future and “reduce the out-migration of young people”, we can do so by allowing undocumented immigrants access to the financial aid pool.

Werner Oyanadel, Executive Director of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission (LPRAC)

Mr. Oyanadel submitted testimony in favor of this bill, as he believes that allowing undocumented students to receive financial aid would improve educational equality and serves to reduce Connecticut's achievement gap, which is the greatest in the nation. Mr. Oyanadel also believes that by increasing access to higher education will result in an increase to Connecticut's revenue in both the short and long term, as Connecticut would increase the number of students attending and paying for college, but also as a result the higher incomes of college graduates would translate into increased taxes and tax revenue.

Additional Testimony

Testimony was offered by the following people in support of allowing undocumented students to receive funding to attend college from the institutional aid pool, as the current system forces these students to pay in without receiving any institutional aid:



Ainslya Charlton, Student, Trinity College

Aisha Folkes, Student, University of Connecticut

Alberto Cifuentes, Jr., Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Allison Martinez-Carresco, Student, University of Connecticut

Allisa Wang, Legislative Captain, Yale College Democrats

Amit Jain, Law Student Intern, The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization

Ana María Rivera-Forastieri, Director of Advocacy and Program Development, Junta for Progressive Action

Andrea Quillambaqui, Student, Danbury High School

Angelica Idrovo, Regional Organizer, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Bennett Cognato, Student, University of Connecticut.

Betsy Warner, Teacher, Windham High School

Brianna DeVivo, Student, University of Connecticut

Byron Xavier Arevalo, Connecticut

Camila Bortoletto, Policy Coordinator, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Carlos Espinoza, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Carlos Miranda, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Carolina Bortolleto, Co-Founder, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Chiedza Rodriguez, Chief Executive Officer, GARO Consulting LLC

Cinthia Perez, Community Organizer, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Connecticut Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association

Daniel Byrd, External Affairs Committee Chairman in the Undergraduate Student Government, University of Connecticut

Daniel Hamidi, President, FWDYALE

Danilo Machado, Student, University of Connecticut

Dasia Moore, Legislative Coordinator, Yale College Democrats

David McGuire, Legislative and Policy Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut

David Vita, Director of Social Justice, The Unitarian Church in Westport

Dayane Torres, Student, University of Connecticut

Doris Illescas, Student, Danbury High School

Dulcemaria Cortes-Sanchez, Student, Connecticut State University

Edgardo Perez-Cabrera, Student, Naugatuck Community College

Elaine To, Communications Ambassador, FWDYALE

Elena Tapia, President, Connecticut State University American Association of University Professors

Eliel Martinez, Wallingford

Elizabeth Kellert

Eric Cruz Lopez, Regional Organizer, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Erik Munoz, Member, Unidad Latina en Accion-New Haven

Father Carlos de la Torre Episcopal Church

Flomo Freeman, Sr., President, Liberian Community Association of Connecticut, Inc.

Fr. James Manship, pastor, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, New Haven, and

Rev. Anthony L. Bennett, pastor, Mount Aery Baptist Church, Bridgeport

Co-chairs, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut (CONECT)

Gabriela Valdiglesias, Student, Hall High School

Isamar Samaniego, Student, Danbury High School

Jacob Wasserman, Ward One CoChair, New Haven Democratic Town Committee

James Root

Jan Hochadel, President, AFT Connecticut, AFL-CIO

Joanne Lewis, Managing Attorney, Connecticut Legal Services, Inc.

Jocelyn Ault

John Destefano, Jr., Former Mayor, City of New Haven

John S. Volpini, UACT President

Johnny Quinde, Student, Naugutuck Valley Community College

Jordhan Ferreira, Student, Danbury High School

Jordy Padilla, WSP – Parsons Binckerhoff

Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo, Student, University of Connecticut

Jose Diaz, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Jose Rodriguez, Vice President of FWD Yale

Joseline Tlacomulco, Regional Organizer, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Josué López, Teacher

Juan Hernandez, Connecticut District Leader, 32BJSEIU

Julian Rose, Student, University of Connecticut

Julie Kushnar, Director, UAW Region 9A

Julio López Varona, Lead Organizer, Make the Road Connecticut

Karina Baltazar, Danbury

Keisha Davila, Student, Danbury High School

Kevin McCormick, Student, Eastern Connecticut State University

Laura Plata, Advocacy Ambassador, FWDYale

Laura Veira, Student, Brien McMahon High School

Lesly Lopez, Student, Southern Connecticut State University

Lizbeth Balt, Student, Danbury High School

Lucas Codognolla, Lead Coordinator, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Luis Ortega, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Maria Guadalupe Andrade Solis, Student, Nonnewaug High School

Maria Sarahi Melchor, Student, Yale University

Maria, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Mariana Rocha, Education Accessibility Ambassador, FWDYale

Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, Ph.D., Director, El Instituto

Mayra Aguilar, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Mayra Reyes-Ruiz, Member, Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center, University of Connecticut

Mayra Sierra, Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England

Michael Yaffe, Associate Dean, Yale School of Music

Michelle Peng, Registrar of Voters, Yale College Democrats

Moises Garcia Legeo, Student, Danbury

Molly Montgomery, Communications Ambassador, FWDYale

Myles G. Simon, Student, University of Connecticut

Natalia Rojas, Student, Manchester Community College

Nelson Neira, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Nicholas Girard, Treasurer, College Democrats of Connecticut

Norma Merced, School Counselor, West Haven High School

Pablo Idrovo, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Renato Muguerza, Student, University of Connecticut

Ricardo Perez, Associate Professor, Eastern Connecticut State University

Ruth Fortune, Financial Law Advisor at Merrill Lynch

Shanique Reid, Intern, Planned Parenthood

Sleyther Chavaria, Student, Naugatuck Valley Community College

Stefan Keller, College Access Program Coordinator, Connecticut Students

Stephanie Marquez, Member, Connecticut Students for a Dream

Tashi Sanchez-Llaury, Stamford

Todd Vachon, Doctoral Student, University of Connecticut

Valeria Baltodano and Namrata Ramakrishna

Vivian Moreno-Zelinka, Student, Vermont Law School

Wayne Locust, Vice-President for Enrollment Planning & Management

Yenimar Cortes, Student, Hill Regional Career High School

Yhara Zelinka, Academic Advisor and Diversity Coordinator, Asnuntuck Community College


John Chunis, Rocky Hill

Mr. Chunis submitted testimony in opposition to this bill, as he believes that we should prioritize citizens “born and raised in Connecticut”, and notes that there are many inner city kids who also dream of attending college but lack the economic means to accomplish this. Mr. Chunis asserts the inability of the state education system to fully meet the needs of our residents and encourages the rejection of this bill. Additionally, Mr. Chunis recommends adopting policies to discourage undocumented citizens from coming to Connecticut and direct attention to meet the needs of “our own inner city poor people who deserve a chance on improving their lives.”

Reported by: Kyle Donovan, Assistant Clerk

Date: March 9, 2016