Illinois passes its DREAM Act (w/ related video)
Illinois has made it easier for the children of immigrants, even those who are undocumented, to qualify for college scholarships. The passage of Illinois’ DREAM Act comes just one week after California passed a similar bill that allows even undocumented immigrant youths to qualify for state financial aid.
The Illinois DREAM Act, signed into law Monday by Gov. Pat Quinn, creates a privately funded scholarship program for high school graduates from immigrant families who wish to attend college. It establishes a nine-member Illinois DREAM Fund Commission to manage the program, with members appointed by the governor. The scholarships will be available to students who have resided with their parents while attending high school in Illinois, earned their high school diploma, attended school in Illinois for at least three years, and have at least one parent who immigrated to the United States. “All children have the right to a first-class education,” Quinn said in a statement. “The Illinois DREAM Act creates more opportunities for the children of immigrants to achieve a fulfilling career, brighter future and better life through higher education.”
In addition, the new law allows any person with a Social Security or taxpayer identification number to participate in a state-operated college savings pool. It also requires high school counselors to provide college information to all children of immigrants. The DREAM Fund Commission will train school service personnel and work with admission and financial aid officers and high school counselors to help students find and make use of higher education opportunities.
About 65 percent of immigrant students come from households earning below 200 percent of the poverty line, according to Quinn’s office. Helping them achieve higher education benefits the state as a whole, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who attended the bill signing, said in a statement. “Immigrants are a driving force in our city’s cultural and economic life, and opening the way for all Chicago students to earn an excellent higher education will make our city even stronger,” Emanuel said. “I am proud that families and students across Illinois will now have a better shot at the American Dream — which starts with a great education.”