If you remember nothing else about Gov. Patrick’s recent decision to extend in-state tuition rates to some undocumented immigrants, remember that number: 15,000. That’s how many of our neighbors can now afford a college education and a chance to build a better life.
Over the last thirty years, the rise in the cost of college has outstripped the rise in the cost of housing, food, and health care. Over that same time period, a bachelor’s degree became something like the table stakes for work in a wide variety of fields. If you couldn’t afford to pay for a bachelor’s degree, you risked being left behind. For 15,000 people, that’s no longer the case.
As Gov. Patrick has pointed out, this is not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform. But it is a step in the right direction. The Governor’s decision will allow young people who emigrated here as children to pay in-state tuition in the only state they’ve ever called home. It’s a win for the taxpayers, a win for the Commonwealth, and a win for the families of undocumented immigrants who are striving for a piece of the American dream.