A bill for a comprehensive state “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors” (DREAM) Act was introduced Wednesday. The bill would also, for the first time, allow immigrant students to apply for state financial aid as well as create a DREAM Fund that would provide private scholarships.
“Our immigrant families, like many struggling in these trying economic times, need financial help to achieve their educational goals,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “As a child of immigrants, I know that investing in these inspiring students represents an investment in our future.”
The bill would make New York one of just four states — the others are Texas, New Mexico and California — to offer state financial aid to the children of immigrants. In-state tuition has been available to New York’s immigrant youth since 2002, an option available in just 11 other states.
The criteria for access to state financial aid would match the strict criteria for students seeking in-state tuition.
This legislation would also give young immigrants access to a broad range of state educational opportunity programs such as TAP, Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP); and opportunity programs available at community colleges.
“Today, the Assembly continues our fight to ensure equal educational opportunities for all of New York’s children,” said Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah Glick. “The Dream Act is an important step towards breaking down barriers and ensuring that every student in this state has a chance to make their dreams come true.”
The measure would also create a fund committed to advancing the educational goals of the children of immigrants through privately-funded scholarships and broaden access to the New York State College Tuition Savings (529) Program through family tuition accounts.
The fund would raise private monies to provide scholarships to college-bound children with at least one immigrant parent.
The family tuition accounts would be available to anyone who provides a valid taxpayer identification number. These tuition accounts allow for systematic savings and have been federally approved since 2002, similar to state-run programs in California and Illinois.