WHAT IS THE MARYLAND DREAM?
Maryland’s new in-state tuition law, or the “Maryland Dream Act” as it is often called, allows a specific category of students to qualify for in-state tuition at any two-year community college or four-year university in the state of Maryland regardless of their immigration status.
1) The law does not only benefit undocumented students. While the law benefits students regardless of their immigration status, undocumented students are not the only beneficiaries of this law. US citizens and permanent residents also qualify. This law is not an immigration reform bill but rather a bill to change the requirements for students to be eligible for in-state tuition, which builds stronger families, helps our economy, and improves school quality.
2) Intent of this law: This law is primarily intended to help children of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents at a very young age and who have worked hard throughout their academic careers with hope of going to college to further contribute to this country which they call home. In Plyler v. Doe, the US Supreme Court ruled that US residents should have access to K-12 education regardless of their immigration status. But when it comes time to attend college, they are suddenly different from their classmates and friends. This means they are financially closed out by tuition rates two and three times the rate paid by other Maryland students. Most of these students are not eligible for student loans, grants, or scholarships.
3) Motivated students means better schools and communities. This law will provide hope and unity for families. Allowing all students, regardless of their immigration status, to qualify for in-state tuition means more high school students remain motivated and continue to work hard because more options are available to them. Motivated students are the best way to reduce the societal issues that plague our community such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse and gangs. When students see a future for themselves and the possibility of attending college, they are more likely to stay in school and graduate.
4) Making college more accessible for the immigrant youth will help the economy. We have heard in committee in prior years from a nurse who spent eight years getting her Associate’s Degree. She went to night school while she cleaned homes in Potomac during the day. We shouldn’t put any obstacles in the way of Julissa Reyes and people like her. We have a nursing shortage in this country. While Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in the union, we continue to face shortages in key labor markets, including nursing, teaching, and other medical support professions. The overwhelming majority of these students are bilingual, driven, and have proven work ethics, demonstrated by working nights or weekends while attending high school. Allowing these aspiring professionals to go to college will help fulfill the shortage in each of their field of interest. Investing in the higher education of these bright students reduces public spending on social and health benefits and increases tax revenue. The Comptroller of Texas, the first state to enact a similar law, found that every dollar the state invested into higher education yielded more than five dollars for the Texas economy in the long run.
5) Who is eligible? Students who attend at least three years at a Maryland high school, receive a high school diploma, and file Maryland taxes from the time they are in high school through the time they graduate college are eligible for in-state tuition at a community college. Students who attend community college in the fall of 2010 or after are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a Maryland college/university.