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This school year, 513 young, undocumented immigrants were able to attend college because of $1.6 million in aid provided through the state.

The Higher Education Student Assistance Authority on Thursday announced the fall 2018 participation of so-called “dreamers” — those who came to New Jersey illegally as children — in a financial assistance program signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in May. More aid will distributed for the spring 2019 semester, according to a HESSA spokeswoman.

“This financial assistance offers these New Jersey students a life-changing opportunity,” said David J. Socolow, HESAA’s executive director. “The successes of these first 513 students, who are now attending county colleges, state colleges and universities, and independent institutions around the state, will have a positive impact on countless additional lives.”

According to state guidelines, to qualify as a “dreamer,” a student must have attended a New Jersey high school for three years, earned a diploma or high school equivalency certificate, live in New Jersey, enroll at an eligible college in state and sign an affidavit that they will apply to regularize their immigration status once they are able to do so. As is required by state law for all applicants for financial aid who are male and between the ages of 18 and 25, male New Jersey dreamers must also register with the Selective Service.

According to the HESAA, there were 1,209 applicants for the grants in fall 2018.

“Ensuring all of our state’s residents have the opportunity to access higher education is key to economic success,” said Zakiya Smith Ellis, secretary of higher education. “All of our residents who have benefited from a New Jersey high school education, are working toward citizenship and come from families who have contributed to our economy deserve equal opportunities to go to college here in New Jersey. I’m pleased this expansion of eligibility is already working to aid people who will contribute to our state’s prosperity for years to come.”

New Jersey became the 10th state to provide aid to undocumented students and the first to implement the law within the same year.

Contact: 609-272-7251 Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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