t’s no secret that college is expensive. For students faced with out-of-state tuition, it’s too expensive. What if you have lived in a state for many years and are still billed the out-of-state price? That’s something young students who are also undocumented immigrants face all over the country. A new Minnesota law however, has changed that.
Before the Dream Act, undocumented students had to pay out-of-state tuition no matter how long they had lived in the state. So if a student immigrated to the United States at the age of 6, and remained living in the same state until he or she was prepared to enter college in the same state, they would have to pay an out of state tuition. Traditionally, colleges have considered students who have lived in the state for two years or more as eligible for in-state tuition.
The law passed on May 23, 2013. It states undocumented students who meet the following criteria:
1. Attended a Minnesota high school for at least 3 years, and
2. Graduated from a Minnesota high school or earned a Minnesota GED, or
3. Registered with the U.S. Selective Service if under the age of 25 and
4. Provide documentation to show they have applied for lawful immigration status if one exists for them to do so.
If a student meets all these criteria they are eligible for in-state tuition rates at applicable universities as well as receiving state financial aid and funding through the college itself.
It is important to note that the Dream Act does not make students eligible for federal grants. A student must be a United States citizen in order to be eligible for a federal grant, so those remain unavailable.
However a new federal program has made it easier for young people who immigrated to the United States as children to work here legally. This, combined with the Dream Act, will provide a boost to these students who want to pursue their education in this country.
The Office of Higher Education in Minnesota has admitted there are some kinks in the program that is just getting started. The application process is not quite smooth, as it has to be completely separate from the federal funding application most students submit. And initial funding may be small as they try to make the program work. However, they don’t want this to discourage students. Every little bit counts and they are confident they will have the finer details down in the next few years.
Immigration laws can be difficult, but this is one law they hope will stay in place for a long time, as it is as much about education as it is about immigration.