A.Z. v. H.E.S.A.A.

On June 9, 2011, the ACLU-NJ filed an appeal on behalf of a high school student who was denied state financial aid because of the immigration status of her mother. The student, A.Z., is an American citizen who filed for a Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) through the state’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA). The state rejected her request for aid, explaining that the high school senior was ineligible because her “parents are not legal New Jersey residents.” Her mother is an undocumented immigrant. Students from New Jersey who enroll at a college or university in the state are eligible for state financial aid. In order to qualify for the funds, the state requires students demonstrate financial need and be U.S. citizens. The legislation that created the tuition program does not make any stipulations about the immigration status of the parents of student applicants. The appeal, filed directly to the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court, also contends the state has violated the state and federal Constitutions’ guarantee of Equal Protection. The appellate division has reversed HESAA's decision.

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