Login

What the New Illinois Dream Act Means for Undocumented Students

May 31, 2011

Educators, business leaders and immigrant advocacy groups have lobbied Congress to pass the national DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act for over ten years. The Illinois state House and Senate passed this historic education bill in May 2011, which will provide opportunities for scholarships, college savings programs and prepaid tuition to all Illinois residents, including undocumented students, at no cost to taxpayers.

View popular schools

By Polly Peterson

undocumented student immigrant student DREAM act

Who Are Undocumented Students?

Undocumented students are immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The Urban Institute estimated 65,000 youths nationwide fell into this category as of 2002. Currently, under U.S. law, they're guaranteed a K-12 public school education. Unfortunately, many drop out before graduating from high school and aren't adequately counseled on viable college options.

Undocumented students who have finished high school or obtained a GED may pursue U.S. citizenship through a 6-year conditional permanent residency that requires them to complete two years of college or U.S. military service. Other conditions may also apply, such as being younger than 15 when they immigrated. Conditional permanent residents can apply for student loans and federal work-study programs, but undocumented students cannot. Neither group is eligible to receive federal financial aid.

Since 2003, undocumented students meeting certain criteria have qualified for in-state tuition as set forth in Illinois' House Bill 60. Currently, undocumented students in California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Washington can pay in-state tuition rates, usually after graduating from a local high school which they attended for at least three years.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

What Are the Benefits?

The Illinois DREAM Act, which is modeled after the federal DREAM Act, will make college scholarship money available to undocumented students. Additionally, all Illinois residents will be eligible to apply for the state's college savings (Bright Start) and prepaid tuition (College Illinois) programs.

college degree DREAM act undocumented students

Another benefit of the Illinois DREAM Act will be the ability for recipients to obtain state driver's certificates, enabling them to transport themselves to and from school. Illinois residents who don't have social security numbers aren't eligible for licenses to drive legally, nor can they insure their vehicles. DREAM students will be able to apply for Illinois driver's certificates, which aren't driver's licenses, but can be used to drive legally and acquire auto insurance, reducing the number of uninsured motorists on our highways.

Where Does the Funding Come From?

The Illinois DREAM Act is not funded by tax dollars. Scholarships will be privately funded and a volunteer Illinois Student Assistance Commission will oversee education counseling, research financial needs and raise and administer funds. Fees will be charged to applicants for Illinois driver's certificates to defray the costs.

When Does It Start?

On May 4, 2011, the Illinois Senate passed the education bill with a bipartisan majority of 45-11 in favor. The Illinois House passed the Illinois DREAM Act with a 61-53 vote on May 26. Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) has released a statement that he will sign the legislation, forecasting a favorable future for the education of immigrants in the state. Once the DREAM Act is signed, Illinois will become the first state to offer private scholarships to help the children of immigrants afford a college education.

Learn how a national organization is promoting academic achievement of underprivileged youth in our interview with Minds Matter.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma of GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Master of Science in Communication
    • Master of Science in Education in Special Education
    • Master of Science in Engineering Technology
    • Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management
    • Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology
    • Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration
    • Master of Arts in Human Resource Management
    • Master of Arts in International Development
    • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
    • Master of Arts in Special Education
    • Master of Science in Accountancy
    • RN to Bachelors of Science in Nursing

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Doctor of Business Administration - Management
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
    • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
    • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
    • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
    • BS in Applied Management
    • BS in Psychology
    • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
    • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
    • BS in Accounting
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in GeroPsychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Forensic Psychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Health Psychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Human Factors Psychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Life Coaching

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Ph.D. in Literacy
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Educational Leadership
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Special Education
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
    • Master of Business Administration in Interdisciplinary Business
    • Master of Business Administration in Taxation
    • Master of Science in Accounting
    • Master of Science in Taxation
    • Master of Science in Library and Information Science
    • Master of Science in Library and Information Science: Academic Librarianship

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Finance
    • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
    • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
    • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
    • Master of Arts in Economics
    • Master of Public Administration and Policy
    • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
    • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
    • Graduate Certificate in Agile Project Management
    • Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Analytics and Management
    • Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
    • Master of Science in Health Informatics
    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate

    What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?