November 30, 2007
There's No 'DREAM Act,' But College Aid is Available
"Citizenship Requirements" is a field of entry in the latest directory of college scholarships for "America's Latino students," published by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute. For each listing of a scholarship organization, the directory says whether being a U.S. citizen (or legal resident, in some cases) is a criterion for eligibility. Quite a few private scholarship programs have no requirements in this regard (publicly funded programs are another story).
Getting a copy of the directory in the mail reminded me that the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or "DREAM Act," was introduced but did not proceed in the U.S. Congress this fall. While for years, versions of the DREAM Act introduced into Congress contained a provision clarifying that states could provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who would benefit from the act, that provision was dropped from the version of the act filed in Congress in September. That September version did, however, give undocumented students who met certain criteria a path to legalization. But the proposal stalled in Congress.
Since then, the idea that anyone might provide any kind of break for undocumented students has become a hot issue among politicians running for president, as my Education Week colleague Michele McNeil has been noting on her blog. See here and here.
In publishing its directory on college aid, I believe the Los Angeles-based Tomas Rivera Policy Institute wants Latinos to know that they shouldn't give up on getting a college education in the United States, regardless of their immigration status. Why else would the institute spell out for Latinos the college-aid organizations that care about the students' legal status in this country and the ones that don't?