The start of the new school year has many families across the country sweating the costs of higher education, as tuition at public and private colleges and universities nationwide are at an all-time high. A handful of legislators in the New York Assembly, however, have expressed their determination to increase these expenses for taxpayers in their state by making illegal aliens eligible to receive taxpayer funded scholarships and financial aid awards at the state’s public schools.

Legislators in the state Senate have successfully defeated similar legislation, often referred to as the “DREAM Act,” every year since 2011. Such legislation would make an illegal alien eligible to receive assistance through the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (NYSTAP) if they attended and graduated from a high school in the state. Currently, only citizen and lawful permanent residents are eligible to receive taxpayer funded awards through NYSTAP.  The NYSTAP program is designed to help students pay tuition at approved colleges and universities in New York by providing up to $5k awards per student annually.

State Senator Jose Peralta (D-13) supports the legislation, despite its estimated $27 million price tag for implementation alone. Other state legislators, including, Assembly member Nicole Malliotakis (R-64) have opposed providing post-secondary education benefit to illegal aliens because of its unfairness to citizen and legal immigrant students and favored expanding NYSTAP to those students. “[The Tuition Assistance Program] should be used in place of the DREAM Act to provide financial aid to middle-class citizens and legal immigrants who are struggling with the ever-increasing cost of college,” said Malliotakis in 2015 when considering DREAM Act legislation that year.