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Immigrant students and the Minnesota Prosperity Act, part 1

July 12, 2013 – David Hahn

Minnesota Prosperity Act for Immigrant Students | Robichaud Law

On behalf of Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A. posted in Adjustment of Status on Friday, July 12, 2013.

Minnesota and other states don’t have to merely wait on the sidelines while federal immigration reform is debated in Washington. For one thing, Minnesotans are deeply engaged in that debate.

But there is another reason too. Under our federal system of government, states do retain important powers to legislate in areas that are not the exclusive domain of the federal government. And so, in the field of immigration, states have important decisions to make on issues such as financial aid to immigrant students, drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants, and so on.

In this post, let’s review the state of the law in Minnesota on financial aid for immigrant students. We last discussed this in our May 2 post, the day after the Minnesota Senate passed a bill known as the Minnesota Prosperity Act.

Since then, the Minnesota House of Representatives has followed suit and the bill has become law. It seeks to improve access to education funding for undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria under the law.

To be eligible, an immigrant must have gone to high school in Minnesota for at least three years and have either graduated or received a GED here. Compliance with draft registration requirements is also necessary.

In addition, the law specifies that undocumented students apply to adjust their immigration status when federal immigration process changes make that possible. In other words, if federal immigration reform provides a path to legal status, students will need to take advantage of it in order to be eligible to apply for state financial aid.

That aid can come in several different forms. It could be state financial aid or it could be private scholarships offered at public colleges or unversities. Receiving in-state resident tuition at a public college or university would also be a form of financial assistance because those rates are lower than for non-residents.

Indeed, the difference between in-state and non-resident tuition can add up to tens of thousands of dollars for students seeking a four-year degree. That is why, to encourage educational options, Minnesota has tuition reciprocity agreements with Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. Under the Prosperity Act, the benefits of those agreements can now also extend to students who are undocumented immigrants.

Next week, in part two of this post, we will discuss the Prosperity Act’s connection to the federal Deferred Action program and other issues.

Source: MinnPost, “What the passage of the Minnesota Prosperity (Dream) Act means,” Juventino Meza, July 3, 2013

 

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