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CT to Offer Financial Aid to “Dreamers”

The young people known as Dreamers will be able to apply for financial aid to Connecticut public colleges starting in January 2020. (ihsanadity/Pixabay)
The young people known as Dreamers will be able to apply for financial aid to Connecticut public colleges starting in January 2020. (ihsanadity/Pixabay)
April 27, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. – "Dreamers" will soon be able to receive institutional financial aid to attend Connecticut's public colleges and universities. On Wednesday night, 13 Republicans joined 78 Democrats in the state House of Representatives to give final passage to the bill that will let undocumented immigrants who arrived as children to apply for the assistance.

The bill doesn't include access to federal Pell grants or state taxpayer-funded scholarships. But Carolina Bortolleto, co-founder of the group "Connecticut Students for a Dream," calls the bill an important advance for Dreamers' access to higher education.

"It won't cover the whole amount of tuition, but it will have a very big impact for students who previously were not eligible for any kind of aid,” says Bortolleto. “So, any small amount that they get will help them."

Gov. Dannel Malloy has said he will sign the bill into law.

Opponents have said allowing undocumented students to apply for the limited amount of aid could mean some citizens will be denied. Bortolleto counters that the aid available is funded by tuition revenue, and allowing Dreamers to get some financial aid will increase enrollment in the state schools.

"The students benefit, the schools benefit and the state benefits, because more students means more tuition revenue, means more institutional aid,” says Bortolleto. “So, I think this is a win-win-win situation for everyone."

The aid will be available to immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 17, have attended at least two years of high school in Connecticut and have no felony convictions.

Bortolleto notes that passage of the financial aid bill stands in sharp contrast to the anti-immigrant actions of some members of Congress and the Trump administration.

"I think our victory shows that Connecticut can do better,” says Bortolleto. “We can rise above the partisanship that we see in Washington, D.C., and do something to actually improve the lives of our communities here in the state."

Six other states already allow some undocumented students to access financial aid, and New Jersey will soon be providing such aid as well.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT