DREAM Act supporters have proposed two bills that would allow undocumented students to receive financial aid in colleges and universities in the state of New York. New York is one of 12 states that allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition. Texas, California and New Mexico are the only states that provide financial aid for undocumented students.
The New York Dream Act (S.4179), would make undocumented students who have lived in New York for at least two years eligible to receive grants from the Tuition Assistance Program.This bill, introduced by Senator Bill Perkins on March 22, 2011, is an adaptation of the DREAM Act, which the U.S. House passed in 2010, but the Senate denied in the November 2010 lame-duck session. New York's version of the federal DREAM Act would allow undocumented students to receive financial aid, including loans, scholarships and grants.
To qualify under this legislation, undocumented students have to prove they entered the country before they were 16 years old. Eligible individuals have to graduate from a high school or earn a GED and show good moral character. Only those who are younger than 35 years old at the time the New York Dream Act is enacted qualify.
Undocumented students have to register with a college or university and work toward a higher education degree for at least two years. Another alternative is to serve in the New York National Guard for at least two years or complete 910 hours of community service.Once undocumented students qualify for the New York Dream Act, they would be eligible for state IDs, driver’s licenses, state health programs and work opportunities.
Supporters say the bill would allow thousands of students who were brought as children to contribute to the country by entering the workforce and in return paying taxes. Critics of the New York Dream Act say the state should not use their taxes to fund education for undocumented immigrants. The second initiative is a private fund that would give undocumented students financial help through tax-deductible donations.
The N.Y. DREAM Fund Commission would create a committee dedicated to raising funds for scholarships aimed at undocumented students who qualify. This commission is to be funded by private contributions, and no state funds would be accepted. New York universities, immigrants’ rights coalitions and undocumented students are expecting the State Legislature to pass the resolutions and for the governor to sign them.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the New York Dream Act, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to voice his stand on both proposals. Will New York become the fourth state to provide financial aid to undocumented students? Or will the New York Dream Act be turned down like the federal DREAM Act in 2010?
N.Y. may become fourth to provide aid to undocumented students - The Independent Florida Alligator: Uncovering Immigration