Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie

HARTFORD, CT — Building on legislation he signed early in his tenure as governor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed legislation Friday that allows undocumented student to apply for financial aid at Connecticut public colleges and universities.

At a signing ceremony in his state Capitol office, Malloy said the legislation “makes sure all of our students who are admitted are treated fairly with respect.”

He said it’s probably even more important in a society “that has taken a turn for the worse.” He said the president’s comments have “sought to demonize the battle we’re in over DACA” and “punish children.”

He said he hopes the message is that “there is another way. We can treat people fairly and honestly and we can do that in their best interests and our own best interest.”

Previously, state law denied access to the financial aid system for these students, despite the fact that they were required to pay into it through their existing tuition.

“The bottom line of what we are doing here is not controversial – it allows students who are already attending our colleges and universities and already paying into our financial aid system with the ability to access that very system for which they are currently ineligible through no fault of their own,” Malloy said.

The bill passed the House 91-59 and the Senate 30-5 with bipartisan support.

Those who opposed it tried to argue that somehow state tax dollars were being used, but the governor’s office said state tax dollars are not used for the financial aid system – it is funded through a need and merit-based pool that students attending the schools are required to pay into through their tuition. Federal Pell grants and state aid provided through the Roberta Willis Scholarship will still be unavailable to this group of students.

Malloy signed a bill that gave undocumented students who live and go to high school in Connecticut the ability to pay in-state tuition rates his first year in office.