Rutgers will refund tuition to students covered under N.J. Dream Act

Rutgers students covered under the New Jersey “Dream Act”  will be getting part of their spring tuition back from the university.

Signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie last week, the Tuition Equity Act establishes in-state tuition rates for  students brought to the U.S. illegally.

Marisol Conde-Hernandez, whose family came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1988, is one of “dreamers” who will benefit from the change.

A student at Rutgers law school, Conde-Hernandezand said she expects to receive a refund of about $5,000 from what she paid for the spring semester — the difference between the out-of-state tuition rate she had been paying and her new in-state rate.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“I have about $3,000 in medical bills from an incident last year that I have to pay,” she said. “Now that I have this extra money, I’ll be able to pay that off and really save that money. I’m still going to need to keep paying semester to semester, so it’s going to give me a jump start.”

Eligibility for the in-state tuition rate makes her more confident about registering for her next semester, she said.

The degree itself is a gamble; Conde-Hernandez will not be able to practice law in New Jersey until she can resolve her immigration status.

“I had a dean at the law school who’s wonderful, but he gave reality check. He was like, ‘Are you sure you want to invest money?'” she recalled. “But I’m absolutely sure this is something I need to do for myself and I need to do for my community — and for my family most importantly.”

Thomas Edison State College and The College of New Jersey also are preparing to reimburse eligible students. Representatives of other higher-ed institutions said they’re still reviewing how to comply with the law.

The County College of Morris, which had banned students in the country illegally from enrolling for a decade after 9/11, “plans to be in full compliance with the law.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal