SUNY Board of Trustees Supports DREAM Act Concept

January 25, 2012

New York City – The State University of New York Board of Trustees today passed a resolution in support of equitable financial and educational access to higher education for all New Yorkers, including its undocumented immigrants, as intended by the DREAM Act, legislation recently defeated at the federal level but supported by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union Address.

“The current demographic realities of New York State indicate that many of the brightest and hardest working students eligible to enroll at SUNY are of undocumented status, and it is imperative that SUNY remain accessible to these students,” said Board Chairman H. Carl McCall. “SUNY will work with stakeholders to develop sensible legislation that provides this deserved access and financial support.” 

“All New Yorkers, regardless of legal status, should be eligible to receive State financial aid benefits and in-state tuition rates as they pursue a college education,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “The concept of the DREAM Act is a noble one, and we will work with elected officials and our colleagues in higher education to ensure that that it is upheld in New York State.”

With today’s resolution, SUNY joins the State Education Department, CUNY, New York University, the New York City Council, members in the Federal and State legislatures, and advocacy organizations in publicly supporting the passage of laws to grant equitable financial and educational access to higher education for New York’s undocumented immigrant students.

Under current laws, New York State prohibits undocumented immigrant students from receiving State financial aid in the form of general awards, academic performance awards, student loans, and/or tuition assistance through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

The law does, however, allow undocumented immigrants to enroll in institutions of public higher education in New York and, if they meet other residency standards including graduation from a New York high school or GED program, to pay the in-state tuition rate

The New York State Department of Education has put forward a legislative proposal known as the Education Equity for DREAMers Act. Additionally, there are several pieces of legislation that have been introduced in the Legislature that would accomplish the goal of providing equitable financial assistance for undocumented students. The bills would eliminate current provisions requiring students to be a U.S. citizen or permanent lawful resident to receive State financial aid and instead extend TAP; authorize SUNY, CUNY, and community college trustees to provide State-aided programs, scholarships, or other financial assistance to those who have graduated from New York State high schools; allow students, regardless of their legal status, to receive funds in the higher education opportunity programs and the collegiate and technology entry program; and allow undocumented students to have a taxpayer identification number to open a New York 529 family tuition account.  

Today’s resolution is not in support for any particular legislation. However, it affirms the public support of the SUNY Board for efforts to provide undocumented immigrants the opportunity for equitable access to higher education by making financial assistance available when appropriate.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school and business in the state. In 2015–16, SUNY served nearly 1.3 million students, including nearly 600,000 in credit-bearing courses and programs and more than 700,000 through continuing education and community outreach programs. SUNY students and faculty across the state make significant contributions to research and discovery, resulting in nearly $1 billion of externally sponsored activity each year. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit www.suny.edu.


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