The Patrick Administration says some young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children will become eligible for in-state tuition rates at public universities and community colleges in Massachusetts. The new directive, outlined by the Governor to Chancellors and Presidents of the state campuses, is based on a change in federal immigration policy ordered by President Obama.
Ira Rubenzhal is enthusiastic about the new state directive. Rubenzhal, who is president of Springfield Technical Community College, says all 15 community college presidents across Massachusetts had previously endorsed the Dream Act, on which the new policy IS modeled. Rubenzhal says the $5,000 a year in-state tuition at STCC, which is less than half the current rate for out-of-state students, would make it more affordable for young immigrants to get the necessary education to become productive workers.
“Young people need to get a college education. And if they do they’re going to have better careers, better paying jobs. They’ll be better citizens and they’ll pay more taxes. We think it’s good for them as individuals and we think it’s good for the Massachusetts economy.”
The alternative, Rubenzhal says, would be to have a group of second class citizens with little access to education. Some critics complain the new policy just subsidizes illegal immigrants with taxpayers’ dollars. But Rubenzhal says the college will not require any additional state or federal monies. And he dismisses critics’ claims the new policy will entice more illegal immigrants to come to Massachusetts, saying while the higher education system in the state is among the best in the country, it’s also among the most expensive. At least 12 other states, including Connecticut, have adopted laws allowing undocumented immigrants to pay lower in-state tuition rates.