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Toolkit | Access to Postsecondary Education


Resources for Organizers

Framing the Message: Improving Access to Higher Education for a State’s High School Graduates, Regardless of Their Status

Letters, Testimony & Videos

Organizing Packets

Fact Sheets & One-Pagers

Myths v. Facts, Petitions, Action Alerts

News Articles & News Videos



Improving Access to Higher Education for a State’s High School Graduates, Regardless of Their Status

The following resources frame some of the arguments in support of policies that provide access to in-state tuition for a state’s high school graduates, regardless of their immigration status.

In-State Tuition for Immigrant Students (pp. 22-35 of appendix to Report to [New Jersey] Governor Jon S. Corzine Submitted by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy, undated). (Corzine was governor of New Jersey from 2006 to 2010.)

  • “[D]enying a qualified student effective access to higher education imposes a lifelong disadvantage on that individual and deprives the state of that resident’s intellectual capital.”
  • Allowing undocumented graduates of New Jersey high schools to pay in-state tuition rates “will provide a powerful incentive for these students to successfully complete high school and go on to obtain a college degree.”
  • “Maintaining a well-educated workforce is integral to New Jersey’s economic vitality as demand for high-skilled labor begins to outpace supply.”
  • “Higher education is a necessary precursor to accessing higher paying jobs . . . .”
  • “Increasing the educational attainment of the workforce may therefore decrease unemployment rates, increase tax contributions from as many individuals as possible, and thus contributes directly to the support of in-state social services. Some of the extended social benefits may include lower rates of incarceration and increased civic participation.”
  • “In New Jersey, approximately one-third of children in immigrant families—documented and undocumented—live in low-income families. These financial barriers are magnified in undocumented families, however, whose average income is about 40 percent lower than that of legal immigrant and native families.”
  • “Because many [undocumented children living in New Jersey] were brought to the United States at a young age, they may have acclimated culturally and socially to the local community, and may be, as a practical matter, indistinguishable from their native born peers.”
  • “Unlike out-of-state students who are U.S. citizens, and who would have access to in-state tuition in their home state but choose to attend a public institution in New Jersey, immigrant students who reside in New Jersey have no other option to affordable public education.”
  • “[T]he reality of the demands of the current job market is that a high school diploma in itself is often insufficient to permit the student to be an effective and productive entrant in the state workforce.”

The Case for Undocumented Students in Higher Education (Fermín Mendoza, Educators for Fair Consideration).

This 13-page report cites student profiles, educator observations, enrollment data at California postsecondary institutions, legal precedents, labor statistics, and public opinion polling results to support the following talking points:

  • “Undocumented students who pursue higher education have proven they can succeed.”
  • “We want the most entrepreneurial and industrious students to attend our universities.”
  • “Undocumented students are powerful role models.”
  • “Undocumented students affirm our American belief in the value of hard work.”
  • “We have already invested in these students’ educations and should maximize the dividends.”
  • “When the DREAM Act passes, students will have a path to legal residency and work.”
  • “Undocumented students are an important part of our future economic stability.”

Maryland DREAM Act Fact Sheet (Action in Montgomery, undated). (AIM’s slogan is “Organizing People Power and Working for Justice in Montgomery County, Maryland.”)

According to this two-page fact sheet in support of the Maryland DREAM Act:

  • “The Maryland DREAM Act will bring tremendous benefits to our entire state by furthering the education of all of our students and making our schools more competitive and higher education more attainable for every student.”
  • “It keeps talented students in Maryland.” These students will give back to their communities; the act will stop the “brain drain” to other areas.
  • The act “will help universities financially” by generating revenues from students who otherwise would be forced to forego a college education.
  • “It will likely increase graduation rates for immigrant students.” In-state tuition provides incentives for high school graduates to attend college.
  • “The Maryland DREAM Act will encourage students and families to invest in the state’s economy.”
  • Since these students comprise a small percentage of the entire student body, schools can accommodate them at minimal cost.