The Illinois Dream Act makes Illinois the first state in the country to create a private scholarship fund for undocumented youth. Signed into law by Governor Patt Quinn on August 1, 2011, the legislation does four basic things:
- Allows anyone with a taxpayer number, including undocumented students, to participate in the State Treasurer’s College Savings Pool and the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Plan. These programs allow families of undocumented youths to plan ahead and invest and save for their children’s college education.
- High school college counselors are required to be better trained and prepared to know what college options are available for undocumented students and children of immigrants. This will ensure that undocumented students will receive correct information about opportunities available to them after high school. These trainings will be incorporated into existing trainings for counselors.
- Requires the IL Student Assistance Commission to establish an Illinois DREAM Fund Commission that will oversee the Act’s provisions. The commission will consist of nine unpaid members reflecting geographic and ethnic diversity appointed by Governor Quinn. The DREAM Commission will provide scholarships funded entirely by private donors and contributions. The IL DREAM Fund Commission is responsible for overseeing fundraising for the fund,establishing, publicizing, and administering scholarships for qualified students, and researching educational opportunities for immigrant youth.
In order to qualify for the benefits of the IL Dream Act one must: (1) Have resided with parents or guardians while attending high school in Illinois; (2) Have attended a high school in Illinois for at least 3 years from the time of graduation or receiving the equivalent of a high school diploma (such as GED); (3) Have at least one parent who immigrated to the United States.
Below are two guides that IYJL members have been researching, editing, and designing, in collaboration with Nuestra Voz, ICIRR, and Educators for Fair Consideration to help you understand the legislation better. We are working on a third one for parents, and on translating these to into other languages (volunteers are welcomed), but meanwhile we hope these provide tools to navigate the Illinois Dream Act, and the process to apply for college in general.
We have also done some writing about the Illinois Dream Act. If you’re interested in finding out more about how the legislation was passed, or some details about how we think of this bill, we recommend the following posts:
- The Illinois Dream Act: The facts
- This is Our Moment: Speech at Signing Ceremony
- How do you feel yourself from feeling like school was a waste of time?
- Our first legislative victory: The inside story
- More IYJL resources for undocumented students
- The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights IL Dream Act Page