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Big Ed

Living the Dream Act, part 1

Last week, we traveled to Ridgewater College in Willmar to talk about the 2013 higher education bill and how it will help the Willmar community, the college and specifically, students. There was a lot of enthusiasm from all sides about the bill, including President Doug Allen, Ridgewater faculty, local legislators and staff from the West Central Integration Collaborative.

One of the participants was a young woman who stands to benefit significantly from the passage of the Dream Act. Raquel, a recent high school graduate, has lived in Willmar almost her entire life. She has taken several PSEO courses at Ridgewater College, where she is already enrolled for fall semester. Her plan right now is to complete her first two years of studies at Ridgewater, then transfer to the U of M to complete a medical degree. Raquel hopes to one day be a pediatrician.

I talked to Raquel after the meeting about the possibility of letting Big Ed follow her progress throughout her college education  in part to get a sense of how its going, but also to see what difference the passage of the Dream Act makes in her life, and possibly the lives of her siblings.

She is very willing to share her story! The first thing to do is to find out if Raquel will qualify for a MN State Grant.

Grants are need based, which is determined by filling out the FAFSA. To do so, however, requires a social security number  something undocumented students are lacking. The Mn Office of Higher Education is working hard to develop a new state financial aid application for Dreamers. Once the form is completed, students can quickly find out if they will receive any need-based state assistance for college.

Early estimates indicate about two students for every college in the state will qualify. The other benefit of the Dream Act will not apply to Raquel, at least not for now. Because Ridgewater College only charges one tuition rate (not in-state and out-of-state) Raquel will pay the same as every other student. This will change when she transfers to another college.

About six years from now, this Dreamer could be a pediatrician, a path made easier by the Dream Act!

posted by Sandy Connolly • 6/11/2013 at 10:56 AM


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