Fix unfair tuition rules

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A bill enabling illegal immigrants to pay the same tuition rates at public colleges as legal residents would put an end to a policy that punishes young people for the actions of their parents and has the additional benefit of putting money in state coffers. With Governor Deval Patrick coming out in favor of the legislation, which passed the state Senate six years ago and has been stalled since, we hope the Legislature will make it law this session.

In the case of the children of illegal immigrants in Berkshire County, many of whom have been here most or all of their lives, they must pay the out-of-state resident rate of $6,500 per semester at Berkshire Community College as opposed to the resident rate of $2,500. This penalizes them for a crime of which they are not guilty. By requiring the students to pursue permanent residency or citizenship, the legislation if made law would also encourage them to join the ranks of legal citizens. By offering these students an incentive to stay in the state, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimates that the change in tuition rules would boost state revenues by $2 million in the first year the law is enacted and escalate to as much as $7.4 million by the fourth year.

As the governor said on Beacon Hill this week, the law would benefit those "whose ambitions are caught up in the community in most cases they know." Lowering the tuition rates helps both the students and their communities, as well as generating money for the state. Like the similar federal DREAM Act, the only arguments against them involve punishment and benefit no one. Both should become law.

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