On Wednesday, July 10, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents adopted the Minnesota Prosperity Act, or DREAM Act, provisions passed by state lawmakers in May. This means that the University will now offer in-state tuition and private scholarships to undocumented students who qualify.
The DREAM Act is especially important for the University’s fight against its uniquely high achievement gap. Minnesota has the nation’s lowest on-time graduation rates for Hispanic and Native American students, according to the U.S. Department of Education. But in order for the DREAM Act to be as effective as possible, the University and other public colleges should follow through with their own policies and infrastructure.
First, the University should make sure students and advisers know the guidelines on the qualifications and documentation needed under current legislation. Updating training and marketing materials would help both parties stay informed. High school advisers should also play a role in teaching undocumented students about potential new opportunities.
Second, serving undocumented students opens up financial aid and fundraising opportunities. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education assumes approximately 666 undergraduate students in the state will benefit from this bill, and there will only be more as undocumented students see college as a possible option. The University should welcome the potential influx of undocumented students with unique private scholarships and financial aid.
Finally, the University must ensure that these students have safe spaces and are supported on campus. Undocumented students come from a myriad of financial, ethnic and academic backgrounds. Creating an office or advising team for these students would be an apt starting point.
Reaching a new group of students will help the University develop a diverse and welcoming community. The DREAM Act is a step in the right direction, but it requires further action in order to be effective.