U.S. Student Wrongly Denied N.J. Tuition Grant Because Of Mom's Immigration Status, Court Says

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An American-born student was wrongly denied financial assistance for tuition at a state college because her parents are not United States citizens, an appellate court panel ruled today.

The decision clarifies the regulations regarding tuition that the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, a state agency, had intentionally misinterpreted for years, depriving thousands of students of much-needed aid.

The three appellate judges found that after years of adhering to laws governing tuition aid grants, the state authority in 2005 inappropriately began linking students’ residency to their parents’ immigration status.

"In 2005, the agency reversed course without any substantive explanation — instead, inaccurately representing that this significant change was merely a clarification," Judge Mitchell Ostrer wrote in the 19-page decision on behalf of the three-member panel, which included Judges Francine Axelrad and Paulette Sapp-Peterson.

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