Assemblyman Phil Ramos Helps Pass DREAM Act

Creating college opportunities for immigrant children

Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Bay Shore) announced he voted for the New York State Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (A.2597-A). In addition to creating a private scholarship fund (the DREAM Fund), this legislation would also allow children of immigrants to apply for state scholarships and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to help them pay for their higher education.

“Opportunity is what makes this country and this state so great. All students should have access to higher education, and the DREAM Act makes that a reality by increasing financial aid opportunities for immigrant students,” Assemblyman Ramos said. “These hardworking students should not be put at a disadvantage because of their immigrant status.”

The legislation requires undocumented immigrant students to satisfy certain conditions to be eligible for state tuition assistance and educational opportunity programs, including having attended high school in New York State for at least two years and having graduated or received a high school equivalency diploma in-state. Since 2002, undocumented immigrants have been paying in-state tuition rates at SUNY and CUNY colleges and universities. The DREAM Act goes a step further by increasing access for undocumented youth to a broad range of state educational assistance programs, including:

  • Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP);
  • Educational Opportunity Program (EOP);
  • Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP); and
  • opportunity programs available at community colleges.

“It’s important to remember that nearly every person in both New York and in the United States is a child or descendant of immigrants,” Assemblyman Ramos said. “The students who would benefit from the DREAM Act already attend public school here. Why should we abandon our commitment to them before college? Why not make sure we have the most educated population possible so we can better compete on a global level?”

The passage of the DREAM Act would make New York one of six states – including Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota and California – to offer state financial assistance to children of undocumented immigrants. The Washington State Legislature recently approved a bill that would allow undocumented students to be eligible for state financial aid. The state’s governor is expected to sign it into law.

“This legislation would give young, motivated immigrant students the opportunity to grow, learn and achieve their dreams.” Assemblyman Ramos said. “Anyone who has worked hard and met the requirements should be able to obtain the quality college education every hardworking student deserves, regardless of immigration status.”

In addition to increasing access to state aid, the DREAM Act sets up the DREAM Fund, an initiative that would raise private funds to provide scholarships for eligible college-bound children with at least one immigrant parent. The DREAM Act would also expand access to the New York State College Tuition Savings (529) Program through family tuition accounts. The family tuition accounts would be available to anyone who provides a valid taxpayer identification number. This is a significant help to families in saving for their children’s future over an extended period of time, noted Assemblyman Ramos.

“The DREAM Act would give every child a shot at a bright and successful future. It’s time for the Senate to join the Assembly in passing this legislation and help make these students’ dreams a reality,” Assemblyman Ramos concluded.