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Maryland Residents Push for DREAM Passage; Survey Finds that Families Face Tougher College Decisions

Minnesota Youth Step Up Fight Against Voter Suppression. Members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the League of Women Voters stepped up their efforts through protest held in collaboration with TakeAction Minnesota, arguing against a proposed law that would require valid photo identification in order to vote. Both groups argued the measure would disenfranchise a large minority of voters, and would target youth and minority voters. The two groups mentioned, in combination with youth-led TakeAction Minnesota’s Stop Photo ID campaign, which has rallied the state’s younger voters to fight off the proposed law. Group member Randle (no last name given), a 22-year-old rising senior at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul has helped volunteer for the group, and feels it’s her duty to help those less fortunate then her. “I learned about voter ID in February of this year,” Randle said. “I realized that if the amendment passes, everyone would need ID in order to vote—but there (sic) a lot of people in my community, in low-income communities, and homeless people who can’t afford ID. But everyone who’s eligible should be able to exercise their right to vote.” [The Nation]

Maryland Activists Push Support for DREAM to the People. The state of Maryland is facing an impending referendum on the passage of the recently-passed DREAM Act, which would give in-state tuition to all undocumented students. The Maryland General Assembly passed the bill in November, but opponents have gathered enough signatures to force a referendum this fall, where the bill’s fate will fall in their hands. Pro-DREAM activists throughout the state are hoping that President Obama’s recent executive order will help spark support for the bill. Proponents say that the bill will help expand the number of well educated, productive residents inside the state, and will expand opportunity to a demographic that needs it. “You still have to be able to write that [tuition] check,” said Kristin Ford, who serves as the communications director at Educating Maryland Kids, a coalition of educational organizations that support the bill. "The DREAM Act will be a good way to prepare students for the workforce and get the higher education they need.”Ford added. “It’s still a significant burden because undocumented immigrants can’t apply for financial aid or Pell Grants.” [Carroll County Times]

Colleges Continue Cuts to Scholarships and Grants. After a brief moment of assistance during the recession, colleges nationwide have now begun a vast cutback in scholarships and grants. A study conducted by loan provider Sallie Mae finds that the average available grants and scholarships to students fell 15 percent over the past academic year, while the costs to attend have skyrocketed. As a result of the increased debt load forced on students, more and more families are choosing to send their kids to lower-priced public schools or two-year institutions. The survey found that the average amount borrowed by families jumped 17 percent, from $4,753 in 2010-2011 to $5,551 this past year, while the percentage of families with federal student loans ballooned to 34 percent, up from 25 percent in 2008-2009, according to research done by Ipsos. [The Wall Street Journal]

Christopher Boan is a journalism intern with Campus Progress.

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