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Massachusetts and National Voices Celebrate State Budget to Expand In-State Tuition Equity to More Massachusetts Dreamers

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2023
Contact: Jason Koh, [email protected]

Washington, DC – Massachusetts higher education leaders joined with national leaders from TheDream.US and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration today to celebrate the news that the state legislature’s enacted budget includes a provision expanding eligibility for in-state tuition and state financial aid so more Dreamers can attend Massachusetts public and private colleges and universities. The state budget will now move to the desk of the Governor Maura Healey, who has been a strong advocate for tuition equity for Dreamers.

Currently, Massachusetts policy limits eligibility to Dreamers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, a program that now bars new applicants as a result of ongoing legal challenges. As a result, the state in recent years has excluded the vast majority of the 3,000 Dreamers graduating high school annually in the Commonwealth from in-state tuition access, as most lack DACA status.

Massachusetts higher education leaders offered the following reactions to the news that the budget agreement includes expanded opportunities for state Dreamers

Dr. Lane A. Glenn, President of Northern Essex Community College and a Presidents’ Alliance member, has been speaking out in favor of expanded eligibility on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges. Dr. Glenn noted the following upon the news of the budget agreement:

“The community colleges are grateful to the legislature, and particularly Senate President Spilka, for including tuition equity for undocumented students in the FY24 budget proposal now on its way to Governor Healey.  This important step will immediately benefit thousands of students across the Commonwealth, make Massachusetts more economically competitive with other states, and better prepare the workforce we need in the years ahead.” 

John Keenan, President of Salem State University, Presidents’ Alliance member, and Chair of the Massachusetts State Universities Council of Presidents, stated:

“We are extremely grateful to the Massachusetts Legislature for passing in-state tuition for undocumented students, as this helps us achieve our mission of making educational opportunity more accessible to all. It is good for both our economy and our efforts to advance a more equitable higher education system.”

National leaders from TheDream.US and the Presidents’ Alliance also celebrated the news of the budget agreement

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education held a hearing on the proposed policy that included an array of voices making the case for why expanding eligibility for more Dreamers would strengthen the state.

Donald Graham, co-founder of TheDream.US, who recently testified in front of the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education in support of the policy, noted:

“This is a good day for Massachusetts.  And a great day for the Dreamers who will help make the Commonwealth even more successful.”

Gaby Pacheco, TheDream.US Director of Advocacy, Development, and Communications, stated: 

“Gratitude flows towards the lawmakers who’ve steered Massachusetts and our nation towards progress, strengthening the futures of both Massachusetts Dreamers and the Commonwealth in the process. We now look forward to celebrating even more when Governor Healey signs this budget into law. To immigrant youth in Massachusetts and across the country, hear this loud and clear: you belong, you are cherished, and this country is your home. 

We’re on the brink of an inspiring era, as nearly half of the 50 states have passed in state tuition and state aid policies, with many also enacting licensure laws to allow more immigrants to apply for professional licenses and put their degrees to work in essential occupations. 

The news from Massachusetts is another reminder that the majority of Americans stand by Dreamers and want our federal government to follow the lead of states like Massachusetts by enacting policies that expand opportunities for Dreamers, most notably by delivering long overdue legislation that includes a path to citizenship.”

Miriam Feldblum, Executive Director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, who delivered written testimony for the joint committee hearing earlier this month, noted:

“Allowing undocumented students to access in-state tuition and financial aid makes economic, educational, and practical sense. These students have grown up and gone to K-12 schools in Massachusetts and are now looking to pursue higher education, launch careers, and strengthen the future workforce of the Commonwealth, just like their classmates and friends. By expanding tuition equity, the Massachusetts legislature has strengthened the social fabric of Massachusetts and education access, economic growth, workforce development, talent retention, entrepreneurship, innovation, and the Commonwealth’s overall competitive advantage.”

Additional Resources and Background

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to support undocumented, international and refugee students, and advance forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal level, in our states, and across our college campuses. The Alliance is composed of 550+ college and university presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college and career success program for undocumented immigrant students, having provided more than 10,000 college scholarships to Dreamers attending over 80 partner colleges in 21 states and Washington, DC. We believe everyone, regardless of where they were born, should have equitable access to a college education, a meaningful career, and opportunities to contribute to the communities they call home. For more information on TheDream.US, visit www.thedream.us