Statement by Chancellor Matthew Goldstein on Financial Aid for Undocumented Students who Graduate from New York High Schools

November 15, 2011 | News from the Chancellor

The City University of New York has a longstanding tradition of service to New York’s immigrants and to the children of immigrants, enabling them access to a high-quality higher education.  CUNY’s graduates contribute enormously to the economic and social well-being of the city and state as productive members of the workforce, bringing their skills and talents to bear on the improvement of both their own lives and the quality of life of the greater society.  An educated citizenry is the cornerstone of our democracy.   I am proud to be among the first public higher education system leaders to endorse the federal DREAM Act to establish pathways to citizenship that further strengthen our commitment to the education of immigrants.

Today, many thousands of undocumented students across New York State are pursuing their educational ambitions, aided by a state law that allows undocumented students educated in the state’s high schools to attend public colleges and pay in-state tuition rates.   We review their educational credentials as we do all students and welcome them to the University.  However, their access is limited by their inability to receive financial assistance, including aid from the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

Students who graduate from a New York State high school should be eligible to receive government-supported financial assistance.   If they have earned their high school degrees in New York, and under state law are eligible to attend public colleges, they ought to have access to the support they need to advance their education–especially at a time when New York needs a skilled workforce.

New York recently enacted a state law that establishes a rational tuition policy at CUNY and SUNY and requires the two systems to conduct studies of the Tuition Assistance Program.  We will utilize this opportunity to assemble the information needed to inform policy recommendations on this important matter, as part of the overall effort.  We look forward to working with the executive and legislative offices of the state as we continue to provide educational opportunities that lead to the advancement of our society, both individually and collectively.