A group of colleges and universities has decided to jump into the illegal immigration debate. The College Board, made up of 5,000 schools, wants Congress to give illegal immigrants tuition help and a path to citizenship. The board released a report Tuesday that called for passage of the Dream Act, federal legislation that would open up in-state college tuition, financial aid and legal status to many illegal immigrants in the U.S.
In the report, "Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students", the board makes its first public push after states in recent years have moved to bar illegal immigrants from paying in-state tuition and, in some cases such as the Carolinas, enrolling in their public colleges:
Currently trapped in a legal paradox, undocumented students in the United States have the right to a primary and secondary school education, but then face uncertainty upon graduation from high school. While some states explicitly allow undocumented students to attend college, there are many confusing, gray areas that cloud the college admissions, financial aid and enrollment processes."This is a new area for us, but it was an easy call," Thomas W. Rudin, a senior vice president for the College Board, told the Associated Press.
Those who seek greater enforcement of immigration laws, such as Federation for American Immigration Reform, say illegal immigrants -- because many are on the lower end of the economic scale – will usurp most of the need-based financial aid.
"It's a massive amnesty effort being laid for this fall," Bob Dane, a spokesman for the federation, told the AP.
At the N.C. Community College system, school officials changed its longtime practice of allowing illegal immigrants to enroll in any of its 58 campus. Out-of-state tuition is about $7,000 a year, while the cost of instruction for a student is less than $5,400.
The policy is currently under review. A consultant who was hired by the two-year system reported this month that the colleges could profit from admitting illegal immigrants at out-of-state rates.
Megen George, a spokeswoman for the two-year system, told the Observer that board members needed time to review the 136-page report and are expected to discuss it when the board reconvenes at its May 14 and May 15 meetings.
Check out the report here. You can also read parts of the report in Spanish, which my colleague Rogelio Aranda noted in his blog, Entérese.
- About 360,000 illegal immigrants nationwide with high school degrees could qualify for the tuition aid.
- An estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of the 65,000 illegal immigrants who graduate from high school each year go to college.
- South Carolina bans illegal immigrants from enrolling at any of its public colleges, and Alabama blocks them from its two-year colleges. Missouri and Virginia are also considering laws that deny enrollment.