Before opening the envelope, A.Z. was a typical all American, high achieving high school senior, getting ready for college. But after she read the letter inside, A. Z. felt like a second-class citizen watching her dreams of college crumble.
That letter changed her life. Despite the fact that she was born in New York and had been a Jersey girl since the age of four, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) told her that she did not qualify for the financial aid she applied for. The reason? "Your parents are not legal New Jersey residents." Although she appealed, the response essentially said the same thing: because your mother is not a legal resident, we will treat you like you have lived in Guatemala for the past 14 years, even though you actually lived in New Jersey the entire time.