- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - In a story Feb. 23 about prospects for the New York “Dream Act” passing in the state legislature, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that Sen. Jeff Klein had not taken a position on the measure. Klein supports the legislation and has been working for its passage.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Tuition aid for students in NY illegally gets bump

Tuition aid for immigrant students in US illegally gets push from NYC’s de Blasio, more Dems


Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Supporters of a bill that would give New York students in the U.S. illegally access to state tuition assistance weren’t giving it much of a chance in this election year, planning instead for a push in 2015.

But unforeseen support from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and more Democratic lawmakers has breathed new life into the state’s proposed “Dream Act” and given hope to students who would otherwise be shut out of state financial aid.

“It’s very frustrating to try and further your education and have so many obstacles in your path,” said Marcy Suarez, a high school senior from Brentwood who was 7 when she crossed the Mexican desert to enter the United States.

Unlike the federal Dream Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for people that arrived in the country before the age of 16, the New York state Dream Act opens up state financial aid to students in the country illegally.

The proposal includes a budget appropriation of $25 million to open up Tuition Assistance Program money for such students at both public and private colleges, paying up to $5,000 a year for undergraduates at four-year institutions. Exactly how many would be eligible for the need-based assistance is unclear, but according to a report issued by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, 8,300 such students in the CUNY and SUNY systems would qualify.

“Evidence of the economic benefits of the Dream Act are indisputable,” Marti Adams, a spokesman for de Blasio, said last week. “We don’t need to think this further. The Legislature needs to give these students the support they need to succeed.”

Ever since it was first introduced three years ago, opponents have argued that using taxpayer money to fund tuition assistance for people in the country illegally takes opportunity and funds away from students who are citizens. New York is among 16 states that already allow those students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges.

Prospects for the immigrant financial aid bill remain uncertain in the Senate, where the new backing from four members of the Independent Democratic Conference leaves it still five votes short. Four other Senate Democrats have yet to publicly weight in on the bill, which passed easily in the Democrat-controlled Assembly last year.

Sen. Bill Perkins, one of those four Democrats, was the Senate sponsor of the Dream Act in 2011. Perkins didn’t return calls seeking comment on his stance on the since-amended version.

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