SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) – Illinois has made it easier for undocumented immigrants to pay for college, as Gov. Pat Quinn signed the “Illinois Dream Act” into law Monday. The act creates a privately funded college scholarship program, with a 9-member commission to establish scholarships for immigrant children through private donations – not taxpayer money.
The Illinois Dream Act makes it clear that anyone with a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number may enroll in state-run college savings programs. Immigrant children, documented or undocumented, can qualify for the scholarships if they have attended an Illinois high school for at least three years and have at least one parent who immigrated to the United States.
Gov. Quinn personally pledged $1,000 to the fund.
Supporters say the program allows higher education to be more accessible to all. Private scholarships are among the few ways that illegal immigrants can pay for college because they don’t qualify for government financial aid.
Illinois already offers in-state tuition rates to undocumented students at public universities.
Opponents say the law helps people who violate immigration laws, or whose parents did.