NYSYLC Report: Extending Tuition Benefits to Undocumented Immigrants Will Provide Economic and Social Benefits to New York State


For Immediate Release

Contacts: Razeen Zaman, razeen@nysylc.org

March 25, 2013

Jessica Rofé, jessica.rofe@nyu.edu

Rebecca Phipps, rap412@nyu.edu


NYSYLC Report: Extending Tuition Benefits to Undocumented Immigrants

Will Provide Economic and Social Benefits to New York State


NEW YORK— As the federal government moves forward on comprehensive immigration reform, New York State has the opportunity to position itself as a leader in the promotion of proactive and pragmatic solutions for undocumented youth. This could be the year that the State extends the right to education to all of its youth, including those who are undocumented, through passage of the New York DREAM Act.

In its new report, The New York DREAM Act: Creating Economic Opportunities for NY State, the New York State Youth Leadership Council (“NYSYLC”), in conjunction with NYU Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, outlines the economic and social benefits that will accompany passage of the New York DREAM Act. This report comes at a time when Governor Cuomo is making critical budgetary decisions for the coming year, and state senators are deciding which legislation to support. On March 5, NYSYLC demanded a voice in the process, organizing 150 undocumented youth and allies to speak with senators in Albany, sharing with them some of the economic and social benefits that are presented in this report.

The economic benefits associated with increased college access clearly support extending tuition assistance to undocumented students. An individual with a four-year degree earns an estimated $25,000 more per year than a high school graduate, and pays an estimated $3,900 more per year in state and local taxes. Extending state aid through the Tuition Assistance Program (“TAP”) would yield similar returns among undocumented youth. Author Rebecca Phipps noted, “Looking at the data, this is a no-brainer. Regardless of your politics or how you feel about immigration reform, this is obviously the smartest thing for New York State.”


The social benefits are equally persuasive. The authors include studies that show that increased college access among undocumented youth will likely reduce high school dropout rates, increase college enrollment, decrease crime rates, and minimize reliance on public assistance programs. In addition to reducing costs to the state, college access will produce long-term positive returns by generating previously inaccessible employment opportunities for undocumented youth. With programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (“DACA”), which provides undocumented youth with work authorization, these employment opportunities have become even more accessible. The authors also highlight comparable legislation passed in other states as evidence of the minimal investment capital from the State’s higher education budget necessary for implementation.


We hope that Governor Cuomo respects that passing the NY DREAM Act is a time-sensitive issue as so many undocumented youth fall through the cracks and never end up obtaining a college degree due to current ineligibility to receive financial aid,” said Razeen Zaman, Campaign Organizer at the NYSYLC.

The NYSYLC conducted its own informal survey of undocumented youth in New York to see the actual impact that a college degree has on jobs and earnings. The surveys reflected a marked increase in earnings for those undocumented youth who had obtained a college degree. Among youth with a college degree, work authorization through DACA brought an average $9.30 increase in the average hourly wage, from $11.92 to $21.22 per hour. “These are taxpaying individuals who can contribute infinitely more to their families and to the State with a college degree,” said author, Jessica Rofé. “It’s simple math.”


To read the report, click here.