A Student's Right to Financial Aid

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As a child, A.Z. spent much of her free time writing, hoping one day to become a journalist. She moved one step closer to that dream when she was accepted to numerous universities with journalism programs. But when A.Z., kept anonymous to protect her privacy, applied for a Tuition Aid Grant from the State of New Jersey, she was rejected. Although A.Z. was born and raised in the United States, the state refused her grant application because her parents were “not legal New Jersey residents.” The New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority had determined A.Z.’s eligibility for aid based on the status of her mother, an undocumented immigrant, rather than on A.Z.’s American citizenship. Without state aid, she could not afford to attend a four-year university. Instead, she attended a community college with no journalism major and juggled a full-time job to pay for school. The ACLU-NJ appealed the state’s decision and on August 8 the State Appellate Division ruled that the State was wrong in denying A.Z.

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