Immigrants optimistic financial aid bill will pass this year
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Immigrant students without legal status in the United States voiced optimism Wednesday that 2018 may finally be the year Connecticut legislators make them eligible for institutional financial aid at state-run colleges and universities.
Cheers from students filled the halls of the state Capitol after the Senate voted 30-5 in favor of this year’s version of the bill, which includes some provisions from the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — policy, such as requiring applicants not have felony records.
They also would have to meet certain residency and age requirements, and file an affidavit about their intention to legalize their immigration status.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, where it has not been called up for a vote in previous years.
“We think we do have the votes,” said Carolina Bortoletto, campaign manager for the student immigrant rights organization Connecticut Students for a Dream. A similar bill passed the Senate in 2015 and 2016, but it did not come up for a vote in the House in both years. The issue did not make it to the floor of the House or the Senate last year.
Under this year’s proposal, certain students without legal status could apply for the aid beginning with the fall 2020 semester. The financial aid, which comes from a portion of the tuition students pay, can be used to attend an in-state, public higher institution. Bortoletto said she expects most of the students likely will use the assistance to attend state community colleges and the state universities. The money also can be used toward tuition at the University of Connecticut.
Proponents of the bill have argued it’s only fair to allow the students access to a pool of financial aid they’ve paid into. Opponents have said the legislation sends the wrong message.