Assembly Budget Committee approves Tuition Equality Act/A4225: NJ DREAMers, Students Celebrate First Step Towards In-State Tuition Victory in State Assembly

For Immediate Release

June 18, 2013


Vera Parra, American Friends Service Committee, (917) 519 7657,

Bea Sabino, Anakbayan New Jersey, (201) 779 6886,

Assembly Budget Committee approves Tuition Equality Act/A4225: NJ DREAMers, Students Celebrate First Step Towards In-State Tuition Victory in State Assembly

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Trenton, NJ– The New Jersey state Assembly Budget committee approved assembly bill A4225, also known as the Tuition Equality Act, after New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition, New Jersey United Students, Anakbayan New Jersey and more than a hundred dreamers, community and labor supporters packed the hearing this past Monday in Trenton.

Assembly bill no. 4225 or the Tuition Equality Act, was introduced by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson. The bill will allow undocumented students who have attended New Jersey high schools for a minimum of three years to qualify for in-state tuition rates in New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, on the condition that they have earned a diploma or GED from a NJ high school, and sign an affidavit promising to adjust their immigration status if given the opportunity to do so.

More than 20 people, including DREAMers and community leaders, testified in support of the Tuition Equality Act during the committee hearing. Speakers shared personal stories, and presented economic and moral platforms that garnered praises from assembly members.

“This bill is not only the morally correct thing to do, but the economically intelligent thing to do,” explains Giancarlo Tello, NJ DREAM Act campaign manager, during his testimony.  “Colorado’s fiscal note estimated the bill would increase revenue from tuition by about $2.0 million in FY 2013–14 and by about $3.0 million in FY 2014–15. Massachusetts similarly did a conservative estimate that said By the fourth year, new revenues from 756 to 876 undocumented students would total between $6.4 and $7.4 million.”

“In New Jersey we already invest over $200,000 in educating our DREAMers from elementary school through high school.  That is an investment that New Jersey, through its Out of State tuition policy, effectively kicks out to neighboring states such as New York, where tuition would be cheaper.  We then stand to lose all their tax dollars, expertise, and investments that would otherwise be put into New Jersey.” Tello continued.

Around 3:00pm, many at the assembly hearing erupted into cheers and applause when the committee members voted 8 out of 12 in favor of the bill. Following the Assembly budget committee vote, the coalition held a press conference to celebrate this important step and to call on the Senate to bring the bill up for a committee and floor vote.

“A4225 is only controversial to those who are not familiar with the undocumented student community’s moral and economic argument,” says Kamika Bennett, a student at Essex County College and member of the Essex County Dream Team.  “I ask the General Assembly to post and pass A4225.  I ask the Senate to post and pass the equivalent of A4225 now. We will work for as long as it takes to win tuition equality so that all students can access higher education in New Jersey,” Bennett concluded.

With overwhelming community support statewide, campaign organizers are confident the bill has the votes to pass in both the General Assembly as well as the Senate.  Student and youth leaders say they are also confident Governor Christie will choose to make this investment in New Jersey’s future when the bill reaches his desk.

Five months ago the youth and student coalition led by New Jersey United Students, the New Jersey Dream Act Coalition, and Anakbayan NJ gathered at the steps of the State House to announce the launch of New Jersey DREAM Act Campaign. Since then, they have continuously gained a growing number of supporters. There are over 70 student, community, labor and faith-based organizations that have signed on letters of support. Five City Councils, and two Counties have passed resolutions urging NJ State legislators to pass in-state tuition for DREAMers. Most recently, the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, representing all public and private 2-and-4-year colleges and universities in the state, and the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges passed resolutions in support of In-State Tuition for undocumented youth.


For more information about the New Jersey DREAM Act Campaign, please visit


Monday, June 17: NJ DREAM Act Assembly Hearing, Rally and Press Conference

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
June 13th, 2013
Media Contact: Vera E. Parra | | 917-519-7656


The NJ Tuition Equality Act (A.4225) comes before the NJ Assembly Budget Committee for a hearing/vote on Monday, June 17th

11:00am Press Conference: NJ DREAMers, student leaders, and community organizations call on legislators to pass the Tuition Equality Act now!

Trenton, NJ (Monday June 17th, 2013)- The New Jersey Assembly’s Budget Committee will have a hearing /vote on the NJ Tuition Equality Act (A. 4225). Students, leaders in higher education, community groups and faith-based organizations will gather at the State House in Trenton to hold a press conference before testifying in support of the bill at the hearing. 

New Jersey has been the long-term residence and home to an estimated 40,000 undocumented young adults that entered the United States before the age of sixteen. These young people have attended primary and secondary schools in New Jersey but have found themselves financially excluded from accessing higher education; they must pay as out-of-state residents at public universities in NJ. 

The Tuition Equality Act (A. 4225) would address this inequity by permitting every student, regardless of immigration status, who attended a high school in our state for three years, who graduated from a high school or received a GED in NJ, and who signs an affidavit promising to adjust their status (if they’re undocumented)- to qualify for resident/in-state rates at public universities. 

There are 15 states nationwide that have adopted state-level policies to expand educational access to undocumented young adults. The momentum is undeniable- several thousand of these young adults already have work authorization under a federal initiative (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) but cannot access any state or federal financial aid. Amidst high school graduations, while college-bound students are registering for classes and enjoying their summer at the Jersey Shore- this bill must pass now to allow thousands of young people the opportunity to afford some classes for the Fall 2013 semester at universities throughout our state.

Campaign organizers are confident leadership in the Assembly and Senate will pass the NJ Tuition Equality Act before the July 1st recess.Youth leaders and community supporters call on the Senate to schedule a vote before the summer recess, giving Governor Christie the opportunity to enact the NJ Tuition Equality Act.

The New Jersey Dream Act campaign was launched at the State House in Trenton on January 8th and has since been gaining the support of educators, city councils, congregations, and community organizations across the state, most recently including the New Jersey Presidents’ Council. The time to pass this bill is now. With the 5th highest population of undocumented immigrants in the country, New Jersey is far behind.

When: Monday June 17t [Press Conference at 11:00am]
Who: Immigrant Youth, Student Leaders, and Community at Large 
Where: New Jersey State House
125 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625

Sponsoring Organizations: New Jersey Dream Act Coalition, New Jersey United Students, Anakbayan-NJ

NJ DREAMers, Students, and Community Call for In-State Tuition + State Aid for DREAMers at the State House


From Akin Olla (January 2013):

On Tuesday, January 8th, the youth of New Jersey and their close allies chose to ring in the New Year in their own special way.

Despite having attended New Jersey high schools and being children of New Jersey tax payers (the non-tax paying immigrant being an outdated myth, with some estimates believing individuals actually pay more than their documented neighbors), these students [undocumented youth] are forced to pay significantly higher tuition rates than their neighbors.

After hours of braving the cold, New Jersey United Students wrapped things up with reminders of the bills, A1659/S2355 and A3509 and a reminder that this was just the beginning of something great.

Week of Action: NJ DREAM Act Now! (Updated)

Hey, ya’ll!  We’ve got a wide array of student-leaders all over New Jersey who are excited to bring you the “Week of Action: NJ DREAM Act Now!”

Find the MEDIA ADVISORY BELOW with a list of all our approved events and actions!

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

May 22, 2013

Reference: Bea Sabino, Chairperson, Anakbayan NJ, (201) 779 6886

New Jersey Students and Community to Launch

“Week of Action: NJ DREAM Act Now!”

WHO: NJ Dream Act Coalition, NJ United Students, Anakbayan NJ, Mexican-American Progress Movement, Passaic DREAM Team, Essex County DREAM Team, Latino Action Network, Wind of the Spirit, PICO New Jersey, Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey- Immigration Committee, American Friends Service Committee and community at large.

WHAT: From May 25-June 1, 2013, student and community groups are holding a series of actions to demand Governor Christie and the NJ State Legislature to pass A3509/S2479, which would allow DREAM Act- eligible youth to qualify for in-state tuition and access state financial aid at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, by the June 30, 2013 state budget deadline.

Community groups are urging concerned citizens to take a stand for a person’s right to affordable and quality education, regardless of immigration status. Everyone is invited to participate in the New Jersey DREAM Act Week of Action. Activities range from social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter to public forums, vigils and rallies across New Jersey.


May 25, 2013

Wind of the Spirit and SEIU 32BJ BBQ + “Papers” Film Screening

6pm @ First Memorial Presbyterian Church, 51 W. Blackwell St, Dover, NJ



May 26, 2013

Mexican American Progress Movement Immigration Reform Workshop + “Dream is Now” Film Screening

3pm @ Mexican American Community Center, 169 Lexington Avenue, Passaic, NJ 07055



May 29, 2013

“Day of Action”


Essex County Dream Team Coming Out of the Shadows

12-2pm @ Essex County College, Newark, NJ



Jersey City

Rally + Press Conference for NJ Dream Act

5pm @ City Hall, 280 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ



New Brunswick

Community Gathering for NJ DREAM Act

5-7pm @ Sacred Heart Parish, 56 Throop Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ




Press Conference for NJ DREAM Act

5pm @ Passaic High School, 180 Paulison Ave, Passaic, NJ



Union City

Choforitos United Rally for NJ DREAM Act

5pm @ Union City Plaza of the Arts (Bergenline Avenue, btw 30th and 31st streets), Union City, NJ



If you’d like to register an event as part of the NJ Dream Act Week of Action, contact Bea Sabino at (201) 779 6886 or email For an updated list of events, please visit

WHY: The NJTED Campaign launched with a rally at the State House in Trenton on January 8, just before Governor Christie’s State of the State Address. For the past 5 months, the NJ Dream Act campaign has been steadily gaining legislative and community support. Dozens of student groups, community organizations, labor unions and faith-based groups have signed on as endorsers of the campaign. The cities of Jersey City, Passaic, Elizabeth, Plainfield and New Brunswick all passed city resolutions urging the New Jersey State Legislature to enact the passage of A3509/S2479. Additionally, Essex County Freeholders

and Union County Freeholders have both signed similar resolutions.

The undocumented immigrant population in New Jersey makes up 6.2% of the total state population, making it the fourth-highest rate in the nation. In New Jersey, undocumented immigrants make up 8.6% of the state’s workforce and paid $446.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010. Despite their contribution to the local economy, undocumented immigrants are required to pay out-of-state tuition rates to attend college, and are ineligible for financial aid and scholarships.

The New Jersey Dream Act Week of Action aims to supplement ongoing legislative visits with a demonstration of the people power behind the call for the implementation of A3509/S2479 in time for the Fall 2013 semester. It is time for New Jersey to join the 14 other states that have enacted similar legislation for aspiring undocumented youth.

For more information about the NJ Dream Act Campaign and how to get involved in the Week of Action, please visit: