With new hope for tens of thousands of young immigrants in New York as President Obama's deferred action program went into effect this week, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah Glick, and Assemblyman Francisco Moya today announced legislation (A.10807) to further brighten their future by opening up educational assistance initiatives such as the Tuition Assistance Program to anyone who qualifies for the new status.
"This is another step for young immigrants toward our goal of a Dream Act for New York. My parents came here as immigrants and I was able to have opportunities precisely because this country welcomed my family and allowed us to work hard and succeed," said Speaker Silver. "These young immigrants, who really know no other home than the United States, deserve the same opportunities and chance to succeed. By opening up financial aid and other higher education options to them, young immigrants will now have a fighting chance to realize their dreams and contribute to this great nation."
Under current law, undocumented students pay the same tuition as their classmates at all SUNY and CUNY schools as long as they meet certain criteria. However they are not eligible to take advantage of tuition assistance programs that are available to others. The proposal would give young immigrants access to a wide array of New York's educational opportunity programs, including:
Many young immigrants are already taking advantage of the President's historic program and are applying for deferred action. On Monday, Speaker Silver and members of the Assembly's Democratic Majority announced funding for three legal services clinics for young immigrants to help them apply for deferred status and provide other services to help them be successful.
"For many working families, educational opportunity programs provide vital financial support that makes a college education more affordable," said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. "Opening these vital financial aid programs to young immigrants with deferred status will allow a new generation of immigrants to realize their educational and career goals."
"For generations, educational financial assistance programs have not only opened the doors to a higher education, but have also enabled generations of immigrant New Yorkers to better themselves and their families," said Assemblyman Francisco Moya. "This bill brings us one step closer toward ensuring young immigrants have access to the same educational opportunities as many of their counterparts."
The bill requires the New York State Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the president of the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), to develop an application form and procedure to allow students who cannot fill out a federal student aid form to qualify for the New York state programs.
"In the simplest of terms, this is just the right thing to do for these young people," said Silver. "We are a nation of immigrants, and President Obama's program will allow these individuals to come out of the shadows. By opening up educational programs to these young people, we are providing hope for tens of thousands of students and creating a brighter future for our country."