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January 30th, 2013

DREAM Act to expand aid for immigrant youth

ALBANY - Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has joined with Assemblyman Francisco Moya and Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah J. Glick to announce the introduction of a comprehensive state Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to continue New York’s legacy of educational support for immigrant youth. 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 Silver. "As a child of immigrants, I know that investing in these inspiring students represents an investment in our future."

The bill (A.2597) would make New York one of just four states - along with 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:

• Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

• Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)

• Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)

• Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP)

• Opportunity programs available at community colleges

"I believe in a New York where immigration status should never be a barrier for young college-bound students hoping to attain a good quality education. To deny these students access to educational opportunities is unacceptable," said Moya. "I am proud to be a member of the People’s House of the legislature, to represent and fight for every resident of this state. In supporting this legislation, we are telling the children of this state that their dreams matter to us."

"Today, the Assembly continues our fight to ensure equal educational opportunities for all of New York’s children," said 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 DREAM Fund committed to advancing the educational goals of the children of immigrants through privately-funded scholarships and broadened access to the New York State College Tuition Savings (529) Program through family tuition accounts.

The DREAM Fund would raise private funds in order to provide scholarships to college-bound children with at least one immigrant parent. The DREAM Fund commission would be comprised of 12 members that reflect the racial, gender, ethnic, language and geographic diversity of NYS; and include college and university administrators and faculty and other individuals committed to advancing the educational opportunities of the children of immigrants. Four members will be appointed by the Governor, three by the Assembly Speaker, three by the Temporary Senate President, one by the Senate Minority Leader, and one by the Assembly Minority Leader.

The family tuition accounts would be available to anyone who provides a valid taxpayer identification number. These accounts have been federally approved since 2002 and are similar to programs in California and Illinois. They allow for systematic savings, making it easier for New York’s hardworking immigrant families to save for their children’s futures.

"We applaud Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Francisco Moya for introducing the most comprehensive DREAM legislation in our state," said Yenny Quispe, a DREAMer from Make the Road New York and a junior at City College. "The new bill will allow me to access financial aid and accomplish my goal of obtaining a college education. I look forward to working hard with my friends to pass the NYS DREAM Act this year."

"Hispanic Federation greatly appreciates the leadership of Speaker Silver and Assemblyman Moya in moving aggressively to pass DREAM legislation that opens up access to higher education and extends the state’s Tuition Assistance Program to all New York’s immigrants," said Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation. "The Latino community is ready to work with the Assembly to pass this bill in 2013 and we call on the Senate and the Governor to support it."

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