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States, Colleges and Faculty Grapple With The Question of Higher Education & Illegal Immigrants

by Jan Murphy

Karina Ambartsoumian wants to go to college but her “statelessness” is putting that out of reach.

The 24-year-old “dreamer” is not recognized as a citizen of any country, even though she has lived in Philadelphia for years. Being stateless means she must pay out-of-state or international tuition rates to attend a Pennsylvania public college.

Those rates can be as much as two and a half times what a resident student pays.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll “The inability to afford college, attain a driver license, own property, travel and open an account, a bank account, have been real barriers in my life,” Ambartsoumian said, in perfect English. “I’m not asking for special treatment. I’m asking for equal treatment.”

She came to the state Capitol today, along with other undocumented students or “dreamers” as they called themselves, to urge lawmakers to pass the Pennsylvania Dream Act.

This act would allow eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at the 14 state universities, 14 community colleges, Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln universities. It also would make them eligible for state grants.

To be eligible, undocumented students would have to have attended at least two years of

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