ATLANTA, GA — FWD.us today released new data showing that tuition equity for undocumented young people could add as much as $10 million to the economy each year by generating better-paying jobs and increasing tax contributions. Nearly 30,000 young Georgians who came to the U.S. as children, often known as Dreamers, call Georgia home and have lived the majority of their lives in the Peach State but have no way to adjust their legal status. They should be eligible for the same in-state tuition rates as other individuals who have established residency. Further, FWD.us’ new data shows that extending tuition equity could impact an additional 1,500 K-12 high school graduates each year over the next decade, resulting in a direct benefit to Georgia’s workforce and economy.
The study also found that Dreamers graduating from technical college would pay back the state’s investment within 10 years, and individuals earning bachelor’s degrees would pay it back within 16 years, via better-paying jobs, higher tax contributions, and higher earning power. Failure to offer in-state tuition for tens of thousands of Georgia Dreamers could result in them taking their skills and talents elsewhere, and joining the workforce outside of Georgia, representing a long-term loss to our state’s economy and communities. Today, Dreamers currently contribute $1.3 billion in spending power to Georgia’s economy each year, and nearly $100 million in state and local taxes.
“Tuition equity would significantly impact undocumented students’ ability to succeed and provide benefits to our communities and economy. I’ve been working with the bipartisan Georgia House Study Committee on Innovative Ways to Maximize Global Talent to evaluate legislation to expand tuition equity for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients like myself for these reasons,” said FWD.us Georgia Immigration State Manager Jaime Rangel. “Tuition equity is critical for our state, but ultimately what is needed is for lawmakers at the federal level – including Senators Warnock and Ossoff – to pass urgently-needed legislation that allows Dreamers to adjust their legal status so they can fully participate in our communities and our economy.”
“I’m a proud Roswell community member. It’s where I grew up, attended middle and high school, and made plans to go to college,” said Israel Arce, DACA Recipient, Surgical Tech, and Grammy Award-Winning Musician. “I was thankful to have attended Kennesaw State, but it was a major financial strain. I had to pay the international rate due to my status as an undocumented resident. While DACA helped me achieve my goal of becoming a surgical tech, being stuck in legal limbo is mentally exhausting and limits my potential. Tuition equity would truly benefit 30,000 Georgia Dreamers and all communities and economies in the Peach State. It’s beyond time for our state leaders to make this a reality.”