The DREAM Act is Finally Passed in New York
On January 23, 2019, both the New York Assembly and Senate passed the DREAM Act (the “Act”), which provides financial aid and scholarship opportunities as well as in-State tuition rates for undocumented students in New York State. Similar bills have been proposed in the State legislature since at least the year 2013.
The Act creates scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who attend a New York State high school for two (2) or more years (or attend a New York State approved GED program), graduate from a New York State high school (or receive a GED), and apply for the undergraduate program for which assistance is sought within five (5) years of graduating from high school (or within (5) years of receiving a GED). The requirements are similar for those seeking financial aid for graduate school except that the student must seek admission to the graduate school within ten (10) years of graduating from high school or receiving his/her GED.
The Act also enables undocumented families to save for college by allowing tax identification numbers (“TINs”) to be used to open college savings accounts instead of social security numbers.
The law further creates a commission entrusted with the task of establishing a scholarship fund for qualifying students, which will be funded completely through private donations (i.e., the law specifically prohibits the use of State monies for the scholarship fund).
Scholarships and financial aid can be used for more than just tuition at undergraduate or graduate schools. The Act also allows assistance to be used for undergraduate science and technology entry programs such as tutoring, counseling, remedial and special summer courses, and graduate science and technology entry programs such as review for licensing examinations and career planning. The students accepting aid for these purposes must meet the requirements for tuition assistance but also must either be economically disadvantaged or from a minority group historically underrepresented in the scientific, technical and health-related professions as well as maintain good academic standing and be enrolled in full-time undergraduate or graduate school programs.
United States citizens that are non-residents of New York State are also eligible for financial aid and scholarships under the Act as long as they meet the criteria noted above: that they attend a high school in New York for two (2) or more years, obtain a high school diploma from a New York State high school or obtain a GED from an approved GED program in New York State, and apply for admission to college within five (5) years of graduating (or within ten (10) years if applying to graduate school).
The part of the law establishing a commission and scholarship fund takes effect on January 1, 2020. The rest of the Act takes effect nineteen (19) days after it is signed into law or nineteen (19) days after the commissioner of education and the president of the higher education services corporation develop regulations and application forms, whichever is later.
This is not intended to be legal advice. Contact a lawyer if you need legal assistance.
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Jennifer S. Echevarria is Senior Counsel with the firm and practices Immigration and Employment Law including U-Visas and wage violations. She provides sexual harassment prevention training to employers in the Hudson Valley. She is bilingual in Spanish and can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email.[/column]