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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



Extensive samples of written testimony in support of tuition equity and state DREAM bills may be found at Substitute for H.B. No. 6390: An Act Concerning Access to Postsecondary Education (2011) (Connecticut General Assembly) and at HB2053 (2012) (Hawaii State Legislature).

Samples from these sources are highlighted below.

Elected Officials

Written Testimony in Support of H.B. 6390 (John DeStefano Jr., Mayor, City of New Haven, March 15, 2011).

  • “Connecticut can best position itself to win the future and set a course for economic growth and wealth creation by removing barriers and providing better access to higher education for all our kids—native born and immigrant[—]because in our increasingly knowledge based economy the muscle in our heads is much more important than the muscle in our backs.”
  • “Connecticut has a fast growing population of Baby Boomers. Between 2000 and 2030 retirees are expected to grow by 69 percent and a comparatively small number of young U.S.-born workers are available to replace them in the workforce. But the immigrant population is growing quickly and expected to boost the number of young, employable adults.”
  • Immigrants that come to this country are hard workers, entrepreneurs that create jobs. It is worth noting that in America between 1990 and 2005 immigrants started ¼ of all venture backed companies.

Educators & Education Administrators

Testimony Before the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee (James Schmotter, President, Western Connecticut State University, March 15, 2011).

  • “The young people who will benefit from this change want, unlike many, to stay in our state and build careers and lives here. With the solid education gained at our public colleges and universities, they will be our future scientists, business owners, teachers, and nurses. It is not only in their interest, but in the interest of all citizens of Connecticut that they have this opportunity.”
  • “House Bill 6390 is also an example of the inclusive spirit that, over the decades, has attracted millions of immigrants to our shores—immigrants who have built today’s America. That history of immigration is full of pendulum swings between restrictions and welcome. In this small way, we can push it toward the latter here in Connecticut. For reasons both moral and economic, it is the right thing to do.”

Testimony in Support of H.B. 6390 (Elizabeth Keenan, Associate Professor, Southern Connecticut State University, March 15, 2011).

  • “Two students, classmates conceivably through their 12 years of schooling in Connecticut, distinguished academically, having passed the rigorous admissions process for a Connecticut public university[,] are treated differently once they accept their invitation to a postsecondary education at a state institution. One student must pay anywhere between two to three times their classmate’s tuition rate because one student was brought into the country as a baby without documentation, the other classmate was born here. Since undocumented students are ineligible for financial aid, students must come up with the out-of-state tuition fees themselves. This cost is prohibitive for most students.”

Immigrant & Civil Rights Groups

Testimony in Support of Governor’s Bill 6390 (Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League, March 15, 2011).

  • “In our experience, injustice against any individual or group of people not only hurts the individuals it targets, but negatively impacts the environment in which it arises and the community as a whole. Providing access to in-state tuition status to immigrants living in Connecticut sends a clear message to the community that disparate treatment based on immigration status is impermissible, and will deliver a powerful deterrent signal to those who may contemplate acting on their prejudices and violating the civil and human rights of any individuals residing here.”

Testimony in Strong Support of H.B. 2053, Relating to the University of Hawaii (ACLU of Hawaii,  January 31, 2012). (The testimony begins on the 12th page of the PDF available at the hyperlink.)

  • “In the words of the Supreme Court, ‘the illegal alien of today may well be the legal alien of tomorrow…[W]ithout an education, these undocumented children, [a]lready disadvantaged as a result of poverty, lack of English-speaking ability, and undeniable racial  prejudices, … will become locked into the lowest socio-economic class.’ Allowing this large and growing group of individuals to remain in poverty without access to higher education is wrong for Hawaii.” (Citation omitted. All elipses and brackets copied verbatim from the ACLU’s testimony.)
  • “Unlike the classmates they have grown up next to, [for them] pursuing a college education [isn’t] just a matter of working hard and achieving. Instead, they face many roadblocks in their path to success: crushing financial burdens, discriminatory enrollment policies, the inability to work, and constantly-looming threat of deportation.”
  • “Higher education is critical for young people to achieve their fullest potential. Immigrant students covered by H.B. 2053 have limitless potential. They are often talented high achievers who grew up in Hawaii and overcame challenging odds to graduate from high school and secure admission to a public university.”
  • “The ideals of fairness and equal opportunity on which this nation has thrived are on the side of H.B. 2053, which offers students a chance to harness their capabilities to endeavors and achievements that will help our state grow.”

Support of HB 2053, Relating to the University of Hawaii (Catholic Charities Hawaii, January 31, 2012). (The testimony begins on the 11th page of the PDF available at the hyperlink.)

  • “These are youth who have lived in the United States for most of their lives and want nothing more to be recognized for what they are, Americans. We believe this bill represents Hawaii’s true values as an island culture, which welcomes diversity and fair treatment.”

Testimony Submitted in Support of H.B. 6390: An Act Concerning Access to Postsecondary Education (Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, March 15, 2011).

  • “The issue of this bill’s legality has already been litigated. The California Supreme Court ruled last year that an almost identical law was perfectly legal, and that law is in operation in California today.


Statement in support of HB 6390 (Paul Filson, Director, Service Employees International Union Connecticut State Council, March 15, 2012).

  • HB 6390 “aims to correct an injustice that exists in Connecticut.”
  • HB 6390 “provides a common sense approach towards allowing the undocumented children of undocumented immigrants the right to attend college for the in state tuition.”
  • “These kids, when accepted to college, have earned this benefit. Their parents have paid taxes, contributed to their communities and these kids have done well enough in school to move forward. Denying them in state tuition as well as Federal aid effectively denies many of them the right to attend college.”
  • “Education is the best way to grow our economy and to grow the pool of productive workers for Connecticut.”


Testimony in Support of H.B. 6390 (Kelly Albuquerque DaRosa, student, University of Connecticut, March 15, 2011).

  • The student, a U.S. citizen with Portuguese immigrant parents, discusses her family’s hardships in paying for college. “From the age of 16, I worke[d] three part-time jobs and made honors every semester. I was able to complete my bachelor’s degree in 2 years while working part-time in a factory. It was a struggle for me and I was getting charged in-state tuition. . . . If I am struggling and am an American citizen being charged in-state tuition, I cannot imagine these children from immigrant families, who unjustly are being charged out-of-state tuition.”
  • “As a Family Service Worker, I remember working with an undocumented mother. I asked her how I could assist her. . . . [B]ut then she began to cry. I asked her why she was crying and she stated ‘all I want for my son is that he gets the education I was not able to and is able to live a better life, yet I fear the day I will have to tell him he cannot go to college because he was not born here and I don’t know if we will be able to afford it.’ I remember fighting back my tears because I all I could think about is looking at my baby girl and telling her that she could not further pursue her education. Could you bring yourselves to tell your children that? We should not judge these individuals[’] motives for coming to the United States until we ourselves have walked in [their] shoes.”

Religious & Faith-based Groups

Testimony on Senate Bill #6390 (Dahlia Sajuti and Jashua Mason Pawelek, Greater Hartford Interfaith Coalition for Equity and Justice, May 15, 2011).

  • Testimony submitted on behalf of the 27 member congregations of the interfaith coalition.
  • “[W]e feel strongly that a country that prides itself on being a ‘nation of immigrants’ ought to do everything in its power to welcome and befriend new immigrants and their children, to offer them, whenever possible, the same blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness we offer to all citizens. Such welcome and such blessings are the hallmark of a just and loving society—not a society that tears people down and crushes them, but a society that builds people up and enables them to succeed.”

Other Supportive Individuals or Groups

Testimony in Support of HB 2053 (Sue Haglund, January 30, 2012). (The testimony begins on the 22nd page of the PDF available at the hyperlink.)

  • “So how does this benefit the University of Hawaii? Make access to education affordable to an untapped population who want to pursue a college education at the rate of in-state tuition, then you generate an educated skilled labor workforce from scientists to entrepreneurs that will generate untapped revenue for the State of Hawaii because of the opportunity to access higher education at an affordable cost.”

Written Testimony in Support of H.B. 2053 (Ryder Onopa). (The testimony begins on the 21st page of the PDF available at the hyperlink.)

  • “In order for my generation of physicians to provide care for the aging and retiring baby boomers, we urgently need bright, dedicated students to pursue their interests in biology and medicine.”
  • “[T]he [Hawaii] DREAM act would take a significant step toward allowing non-native students, who would otherwise be denied it due to their immigration status, the chance at a higher education and career in providing for the health of our islands.”
  • “These students, many of whom come from precisely the demographics that need care most, are largely shut out of med school due to the cost as a non-resident: the DREAM act would remove this barrier, and could significantly impact the future of healthcare in the islands.”