Under Hobbs' proposed budget, 'Dreamers' could get tuition assistance at AZ schools

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2023 - 2:21pm

A proposed plan from Gov. Katie Hobbs’ office would expand a state-funded scholarship program to include some undocumented high school graduates. 

The state-fund, called the Arizona Promise Program, supports low-income students who aren’t fully covered by Pell grants and other federal financial aid. 

But undocumented students, known as "Dreamers," aren’t eligible for federal financial aid because of their immigration status. Hobbs’ proposal aims to fill the gap using state funds.

Jose Patiño, director of education and external affairs for immigrant advocacy group Aliento, is a DACA recipient in Phoenix who works with undocumented youth. He says giving more students the opportunity to stay in Arizona and enter the job market could also help the state's economy. 

"We’re constantly optimistic, we see our role as like, how can we help make this a reality? Because right now it’s just a proposed program. We want to make sure it actually becomes law and that Dreamers actually have this opportunity," he said. 

Arizona Dreamers were barred from both in-state tuition and state-funded scholarships for years thanks, to an old state law. Voters approved a measure to open both back up last year. 

Some 2,000 undocumented students graduate from Arizona high schools every year, many of whom do not qualify for the protections through the DACA program. If approved, Hobbs’ new program would earmark some $40 million in state funds to help around 3,100 Dreamers with tuition to Arizona's public universities and community colleges. 

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