Assemblymember Al Taylor: Time for the DREAM (Act) to Come True

Assembly Majority and new Senate Majority stand united in making DREAM Act law

Assemblymember Al Taylor (D-Manhattan) helped pass the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act today to help ensure the children of immigrants can achieve their college dreams (A.782). The legislation is named in honor of the late State Sen. Jose Peralta, who strongly championed the bill and who tragically passed away in November. The Assembly Majority has passed it every year since 2013, never letting up in the fight to do what is right.  

“Dreamers came to New York with their families, as many immigrants did before them, and are an integral part of the New York community,” said Assemblymember Taylor. “They grew up here, went to school here, and they deserve the same opportunities to succeed as everyone else. In contrast to the discriminatory actions led by the current White House, New York is standing up for our immigrant communities, promoting equality, and investing in our future. With the state Senate on board, this year the DREAM Act becomes a dream come true.”

The DREAM Act allows undocumented college-bound students who meet certain eligibility requirements, such as attending high school in New York, to access the state Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and other assistance programs, including the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Education Opportunity Program (EOP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), and similar programs at community colleges.

“Dreamers” attended or have attended New York public schools and already qualify for in-state tuition at SUNY and CUNY colleges. It is counterproductive and cruel to put a halt to their education due to financial obstacles so far into their academic journeys.

The Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act (A.782, De La Rosa) eliminates the potential obstacles to obtaining state financial aid for undocumented students in New York seeking to attend an institution of higher education. Under the bill, these students are eligible for general awards, performance based awards, or New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funds if they:

  • Attended an approved NYS high school for two or more years, graduated from an approved NYS high school and applied for attendance to a NYS college or university within five years of receiving their NYS high school diploma; or
  • Attended an approved NYS program for a state high school equivalency diploma, received their state high school equivalency diploma and applied for attendance to a NYS college or university within five years of receiving their state high school equivalency diploma; or
  • Are otherwise eligible for in-state tuition at SUNY, CUNY or community colleges as prescribed by their admission criteria.

Although federal law requires that every state provide primary and secondary education to all children regardless of their residence or immigration status, current New York State law prohibits these students from receiving state financial aid for higher education.

The legislation also helps immigrant families prepare for the costs of higher education by allowing an individual with a taxpayer identification number to open a New York State College Tuition Savings (529) Program family tuition account under the New York State College Savings Program.

“This bill is about fairness and about doing right by young people, who have helped make New York the vibrant and diverse place that it is today. Instead of unjustly excluding children who did nothing wrong, we are ensuring all students in New York, regardless of immigration status, have the opportunity to achieve a college degree. Everyone benefits when all students have better access to higher education,” stated the Assemblymember.