To the Editor,
As students empty out their checking accounts on a semester’s worth of textbooks, we are reminded that access to affordable higher education is under attack. Since 2008, higher education in New York state has been cut by $1.7 billion, consequently driving up the cost of a college degree and pricing out many students, including New York’s undocumented youth.
The situation facing the 4,550 undocumented students who graduate from New York high schools each year is even more daunting. New York state has already demonstrated our willingness and commitment to undocumented youth over a decade ago by granting access to instate tuition rates. However, these fellow New Yorkers are still ineligible for any financial aid, such as the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).
The comprehensive New York DREAM Act, introduced this session by Assemblyman Moya and Senator Peralta, will ensure that undocumented students have access to an affordable higher education by extending TAP and other publicly funded grants and scholarships to them. Other states have adopted similar reforms, and New York should not lag behind Texas, New Mexico, California or any other state when it comes to promoting social justice and economic opportunity.
New York in particular has always been reliant upon the vitality of its immigrant population. In light of this long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship, it is time for New York to join other states by further extending a helping hand to immigrant children who arrived in New York through circumstances beyond their control yet share the same hopes, aspirations and potential as their citizen counterparts.
Although federal comprehensive immigration reform is on the horizon, state-level DREAM legislation would still be necessary to ensure these students can access financial aid programs such as TAP. Binghamton University students can make instrumental strides toward educational equity right here in New York state.
Binghamton University Senior