Financial Aid and Undocumented Immigrants

By: *Katelyn McKenzie

Blog Category: Immigration

Courts in New Jersey and Florida recently decided that colleges and universities can no longer deny financial aid to students based on the immigration status of their parents.  These rulings came after many universities, feeling pressure to reduce spending, instituted regulations denying need-based financial aid and lower in-state tuition rates to children of illegal immigrants, even though the children are United States citizens.

A Federal District court judge in Miami found regulations denying financial aid to students who could not prove the legal immigration status of their parents unconstitutional because they “create a second-tier status of U.S. citizenship,” and deny benefits that are widely available to other Americans.

In New Jersey, a state appeals court found its law denying aid to children of illegal immigrants “decidedly un-American” because it denies American citizens rights and privileges based on the identity of their parents.  These policies often go unnoticed because many American students are reluctant to bring challenges because of the possible deportation consequences for their parents, but they affect thousands of college-bound American students every year.


*Katelyn McKenzie is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn about Katelyn McKenzie, click the link to visit her page: Katelyn McKenzie

To learn more about this topic: See Julia Preston, Court Rulings Help Illegal Immigrants’ College-Bound Children. N.Y. Times, September 5, 2012, at A20, available at

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