At its April 20, 2011 meeting, the County College of Morris (CCM) Board of Trustees amended the college’s admissions policy with a 9 – 2 vote to require undocumented students to pay the out-of-state tuition rate rather than tuition based on their place of residency.
The vote was based on a report from the trustees’ Minority Enrollment and Retention Committee. That report noted that the “current prevailing interpretation of federal immigration law is that undocumented individuals not be granted resident tuition rates unless a state statute affirmatively authorizes resident tuition rates.” The report further noted, “Guidance and resolution of this weighty public policy must come from the judicial or legislative branches.” When such guidance and resolution are presented, the report stated, the board should then again review the tuition rate for undocumented students.
The board’s vote came after a two-hour public session where more than 50 people expressed their opinions on the proposed change.
Board Chair Elaine Johnson and Trustee Michael Van Allen cast the two “no” votes. Prior to the vote, Van Allen explained that he would be voting “no” because of “legal, financial and moral issues.” Prior to the vote, Johnson explained that she felt it was unfair to create a system that would charge different rates for Morris County high schools graduates based on whether they were born in this country or brought here by their parents as undocumented children. “That is just wrong,” she said.
As part of the vote, the board also established that the enrollment of undocumented individuals be limited to those who have graduated from a New Jersey high school or have attained a GED or equivalent diploma in New Jersey. Doing so, the committee’s report stated, will “provide a continuum of educational opportunity primarily for students who have been educated in New Jersey and are likely to contribute to the New Jersey community.”
The April 20 vote amended the admissions policy changes that were adopted by the board at its Feb. 16 meeting. That vote stipulated that undocumented students should pay tuition based on their place of residence.