OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT ASSISTING STUDENTS WITHOUT LEGAL IMMIGRATION STATUS WITH THE COST OF COLLEGE.
Beginning with the fall 2019 semester, this bill extends, to certain students who lack legal immigration status, eligibility for institutional financial aid to attend an in-state, public higher education institution (i.e., UConn and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities). The bill extends eligibility for the aid to these students, to the extent allowed by federal law, if they (1) meet certain residency, age, and criminal history requirements and (2) file an affidavit about their intent to legalize their immigration status with the institution they are attending.
The bill specifies that it does not 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, 2019, to establish procedures and develop forms to enable the newly eligible students to apply for and receive institutional financial aid. It allows UConn and BOR to adopt any policies necessary to implement the bill.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2018
DEFINITION OF INSTITUTIONAL FINANCIAL AID
Under the bill, institutional financial aid consists of (1) tuition waivers and remissions, (2) grants for educational expenses, and (3) student employment. The aid is funded by tuition revenue set aside by the public higher education institutions for full- or part-time students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program or a precollege remedial program and demonstrate substantial financial need.
The bill requires undocumented students to fulfill the following eligibility requirements to receive institutional aid:
1. meet the requirements for in-state student classification (see BACKGROUND) or be an honorably discharged veteran of the United States armed forces;
2. be 30-years-old or younger as of June 15, 2012;
3. have been 15-years-old or younger upon arrival in the United States and have continuously lived in the country since that time;
4. be free of felony convictions in all states; and
5. have filed an affidavit with the institution they are attending stating that they have either filed an application to legalize their immigration status or will file one as soon as they are eligible.
Students who lack legal immigration status already must file such an affidavit in order to qualify for in-state tuition (see BACKGROUND).
Federal Law on Benefits for Undocumented Individuals
Under federal law, a person who lacks 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 U.S.C. § 1621(d)).
In-state Student Classification
By law, with limited exceptions, eligibility for in-state student classification 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 & 10a-29). 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 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)).
sHB 5031, reported favorably by the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, is identical to this bill.
Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee
Joint Favorable Substitute