Saturday, August 18, 2012
A.Z. VS. HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENT ASSISTANCE AUTHORITY A-4827-10T1
The Higher Education Student Assistance Authority denied a Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) to a United States citizen who lived in New Jersey since 1997, because her parents were not "legal New Jersey residents," specifically, her mother was an undocumented immigrant. We reverse, concluding: the TAG belongs to the dependent student, not the parent, so the statute barring grants to ineligible non-citizens does not apply; the dependent student here has satisfied the statutory residence requirement, based on her evident intent to make New Jersey her permanent home; the agency's 2005 regulation, which provides that adependent child's legal residence is conclusively determined to be the same as the parent's domicile, was ultra vires, and reversed longstanding prior interpretation, implicitly approved by the Legislature through intervening enactments, that a dependent child's residence was only rebuttably presumed to be that of the parents. Here, such presumption was rebutted.