Dueling Cost Estimates on DREAM Act

December 6, 2010

The Congressional Budget Office released a report last week saying that the DREAM Act -- which creates a path to citizenship for some students who came to the United States as minors and were educated in the country, without legal authority to remain -- would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over 10 years. The CBO analysis assumes that many of these students would over time get jobs, pay taxes and thus contribute to the federal budget. The report also estimates costs associated with the DREAM Act, such as spending on student loans and other programs for which the students would become eligible. The CBO report was generally much more optimistic on the impact of the act than was a report issued last week by the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan group that generally argues for tight controls on immigration. That organization predicted billions in additional costs to taxpayers, based on an assumption of many more students enrolling in college.

The reports came amid lobbying of the Senate to approve the legislation. Obama administration officials held a series of press briefings last week in support of the DREAM Act, and many college presidents have been speaking out in support. The White House blog also released a list of "10 reasons we need the DREAM Act." But Republicans in the Senate continue to block the bill -- with some opposing the legislation and others opposing consideration of any legislation on any subject unless the Bush administration's tax cuts for wealthy Americans are extended.

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