A new study shows that the “net benefits” of Maryland’s Dream Act, if approved by voters on Nov. 6, could return tens of millions to the state for each class that earns advanced degrees. Although the measure would lure more undocumented immigrants to public colleges and cost more than state analysts have predicted, net benefits would likely outweigh these costs.
The report, by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, is one of the most ambitious attempts to fill in the blanks on Maryland ballot measure Question 4. It concludes that some 435 students in each graduating class would take advantage of the Dream Act to attend college. About 185 of those would be induced to graduate from Maryland high schools because of the law.
Maryland’s General Assembly approved the state’s version of the Dream Act in 2011, but opponents successfully petitioned it to referendum – a first in the state in 20 years. The law would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at Maryland community colleges. Students who complete course work at community colleges could continue on to Maryland four-year colleges and universities at in-state rates. To be eligible, the student or his or her guardian must file state tax returns; the student must also have attended 3 years at a Maryland high school and file an application to become a permanent resident.
“Even if the only consideration is the fiscal effects on state and local governments, the net economic effects of the Maryland Dream Act will be positive,” write the study’s authors, economics professor Thomas Gindling and public policy professor Marvin Mandell. “The initial costs of the investment in education will be more than offset by increased tax revenues and lower incarceration costs from a more educated citizenry.”