Illinois DREAM Act
February 4, 2012
On August 1, 2011, Governor Quinn signed the Illinois DREAM Act, contained in SB 2185 (Cullerton/Acevedo). Designed to make scholarships, college savings, and prepaid tuition programs available to undocumented students who graduated from Illinois high schools, the Act creates an Illinois DREAM Fund, and a nine-member Illinois DREAM Commission, appointed by the Governor with Senate consent. The Governor has announced that he hopes to fill the panel in the near future. Individuals with an interest in serving on the DREAM Fund Commission may learn more about the Commissioners' duties and submit nomination forms at http://appointments.illinois.gov/appointmentsDetail.cfm?id=417.
More information about the DREAM Commission and DREAM Fund will be posted on the ISAC website when it becomes available. In the meantime, students and families seeking assistance may wish to visit the Web page of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights for a guide to existing scholarships that are available to undocumented students and a guide for undocumented students in Illinois. (NOTE: These guides are not produced by the State of Illinois, and neither the State nor ISAC is responsible for their content. Clicking these links will take you away from the ISAC Web site.)
The DREAM Fund Commission will raise contributions for the Illinois DREAM Fund, establish a not-for-profit entity to administer the Fund, publicize the availability of scholarships from the DREAM Fund, and select recipients. The DREAM Fund Commission will also be responsible for researching issues pertaining to access and success of children of immigrants in higher education. They will also develop and run training programs for high school counselors and admissions and financial aid staff. Professional development activities for high school counselors will be required to include information on undocumented students’ opportunities in postsecondary education.
Once the DREAM Fund Commissioners are appointed and the program is operational, to receive a scholarship from the DREAM Fund, a student will have to meet the same requirements that now apply to receiving an in-state tuition rate at one of Illinois’s public universities: In addition to having at least one parent who immigrated to the U.S., the student must have lived with a parent or guardian while going to high school in Illinois, graduated from that high school or received a GED, and attended school in Illinois for at least three years before graduating or receiving a GED certificate.
The Illinois DREAM Act also makes the State’s 529 college savings and prepaid tuition programs available to Illinoisans with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, regardless of whether they have social security numbers. This means that those undocumented Illinoisans with ITINs will be allowed to participate in both the College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program and the Bright Start and Bright Directions college savings plans.