HB 262 — Higher Education – Tuition Rates – Exemptions - Maryland Catholic Conference

HB 262 — Higher Education – Tuition Rates – Exemptions

Committee: House Appropriations

Position: Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

House Bill 262 changes the circumstances under which some individuals, including undocumented immigrants, will be exempt from paying the out-of-state tuition rate at community colleges and eligible to pay an equivalent rate to the resident tuition rate at a public senior higher education institution.

The original Maryland DREAM Act extended in-state tuition eligibility to Maryland high school graduates who provided proof that they or their parents have been paying income taxes so they could attend Maryland colleges and universities more feasibly. It has been successful in making a college education possible for many immigrant Marylanders.

However, the primary restrictions under the original Maryland DREAM Act have limited the number of Marylanders who can access higher education. The requirement that students must first attend a community college before attending a four-year institution in order to qualify for in-state tuition greatly restricts the choices for undocumented students in their pursuit of postsecondary education. In addition to that, the requirement for students to attend a community college in the jurisdiction where they graduated from high school limits the ability to choose colleges that have degree programs that best suit their needs and educational goals.

The proposed legislation removes the aforementioned restrictions and expands protections to Marylanders who have been provided deferred action relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. By making a college education more accessible and affordable to Maryland youth, we are able to provide them with greater opportunities –opportunities for higher education, to acquire job skills, and to have a better chance of supporting themselves and their families in the future.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on House Bill 262.