HARRISBURG, PA – Undocumented Pennsylvania residents who complete high school would have an improved chance of attending college under a bill sponsored by state Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-West Lampeter). More than a dozen states have adopted some version of a Dream Act in recent years.
“Young people who graduate from our high schools have established a presence here, and we have made an investment in them,” Smucker said. “They are part of our future, so it only makes sense to lower barriers to additional educational advancement and achievement. The more education they attain, the better positioned they are to become contributing citizens.”
The Smucker legislation is based on Maryland’s Dream Act, which was approved by the legislature in 2011 and then upheld overwhelmingly in a ballot referendum in the November 2012 election.
Under this proposal, eligible individuals must offer proof of having attended at least two years of high school and must meet all Commonwealth residency requirements for financial aid. If admitted to college, the students would then be charged the lower in-state tuition rate.
“Pennsylvania increasingly represents opportunity for people from many different places, and this seems a practical incentive to offer those who are working and studying to make their way in our Commonwealth,” Smucker said. “This has the potential to expand the pool of skilled workers and prospective job creators. In the converse, we limit our capacity to grow if we deny opportunities to intelligent and industrious young people because of actions their parents took years ago.
“This does not reduce admission standards for anyone, nor does it guarantee you a spot,” Smucker said. “It merely removes a significant financial penalty that prevents some highly capable students from pursuing higher education.
“The intent is to make Pennsylvania more hospitable to and competitive for emerging talent,” Smucker said. “The benefits of giving every student the same tools to succeed will become clear as we watch them grow into contributing members of the Commonwealth.”
— Sen. Dominic Pileggi (@SenatorPileggi) January 23, 2013
Lancaster Online also has a story on the bill.