Proponents of bills offering in-state tuition for DREAMers argue the move would help improve high school graduation rates by making college more attainable.
"The main purpose of offering resident tuition to undocumented students is to encourage them to stay in high school and be successful," James Milliken, president of the University of Nebraska, stated in written testimony to the state legislature's education committee in 2010. "Since many of these students drop out of high school when they realize that they will not be able to attend college, offering them the opportunity to attain a more affordable college education may also encourage more of them to perform well and graduate from high school."
Making college more affordable for DREAMers can provide needed motivation, but there isn't enough research to understand what impact, if any, these state laws have on the graduation rates of undocumented students, says Roberto Gonzalez, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration.
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"It's really hard to get a hold of that data," Gonzalez says. "Schools are very, very protective about releasing information, or even tracking who in their system might be undocumented, just for fear that it gets in the wrong hands."
But including high school enrollment or completion as an eligibility requirement for protection under President Obama's recent policy could be the incentive some students need to graduate high school, Gonzalez adds.
"Jumping ahead, I could see the administration's new policy change (and the DREAM Act especially) as a motivation to finish school and to even go back and get a GED," he said via E-mail. "There are already growing efforts to get more students through the pipeline (and into GED programs) to ensure their eligibility."
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