DREAM Act Could Help New York Students

March 21, 2012

This month, activists have called on legislators in New York to prioritize the DREAM Act and DREAM Fund for the 2012 budget. Both of these legislation would assist undocumented students in receiving financial aid for college. The New York State Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force joined the student activists earlier this month to alert legislators to the new legislation in the hopes of getting it approved sooner.

The DREAM Act and DREAM Fund would allow all students applying to college, regardless of immigration status, to apply for and receive financial assistance from New York State. The DREAM fund would also create a scholarship fund for immigrants.

"Immigration students face many disadvantages when it comes to their education," said Felix Ortiz, a Democrat from Brooklyn, who is the chairman of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. "Whether it is the fact that English is a second language or the fact that they may not have the financial security needed to attend institutions of higher education, these young individuals should not be barred from a quality education."

Ortiz says that if language supporting the DREAM Act and Fund are included in the budget, then there is also a greater change of a funding allocation for these students. The aid would come in handy considering that immigrants don't qualify for most scholarships and federal aid programs.

"There is only one bill that would probably cost some money," said Ortiz. "And that is the DREAM Act. The DREAM Fund is a very straightforward piece of legislation that does not cost the government any money."

Ortiz also suggests that the benefits outweigh the cost of the program in the long-run, which is estimated at a less than 1 percent increase in Tuition Assistance Program funding. Ortiz calls this a "swap."

Assemblyman Francisco Moya, a Democrat from Queens, was the sponsor for the DREAM fund.

The New York state DREAM fund will provide thousands of New York students with the opportunity to achieve the American dream," he said. "The children of immigrants living in New York deserve access to financial assistance for college, especially when that assistance is provided at no cost to the state as in the DREAM fund. With a larger, more education work force, our state will benefit economically while also allowing New York to be on the forefront of industries such as [technical] development."

Moya believes that the DREAM fund would allow students to apply for New York state's Tuition Assistance Program with a tax ID number, as opposed to the social security number. In addition, Senator Bill Perkins, who has sponsored the DREAM act, has said that the bill would actually create revenue for college communities and the state. Activists have used this to call Congress' attention to the bill and hopefully see it ratified before the school Fall semester.

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