Read More UMBC News Blog Stories

October 8, 2012

UMBC Researchers Weigh Costs and Benefits of Maryland Dream Act

Dinah Winnick
Communications Manager
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

In one month Maryland voters will decide whether to allow undocumented immigrants who graduate from Maryland high schools and meet other requirements to pay in-county/in-state tuition at local community colleges and public universities. Until now, voters had little information to go on about the Dream Act’s likely effects, but a new report from UMBC researchers T.H. Gindling (professor of economics) and Marvin Mandell (professor of public policy) offers hard data on its economic impacts.

“Private and Government Fiscal Costs and Benefits of the Maryland Dream Act” is a working paper funded by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR) at UMBC. It asks how many students would benefit from the Dream Act and what the net economic impacts would be. The researchers also explore the fiscal costs and benefits to the state, county and federal governments under the Dream Act.

A policy brief summarizing the paper notes: “The estimates from this analysis suggest that the net economic effect of the Maryland Dream Act will be positive, and the benefits will be substantial. Even if the only consideration is the fiscal effects on state and local governments, the impact of the Dream Act will be positive. The initial costs of the investment in education will be more than offset by increased tax revenues and lower government spending on incarceration and other government programs that result from a more educated citizenry.”

The analysis distinguishes two broad categories of students who could utilize the Dream Act: undocumented immigrants students who would obtain more education because the Dream Act lowers the cost of education to them (estimated at 163 students per year); and those who would obtain the same education with or without the Dream Act, but who would pay lower tuition and fees at public institutions because of the legislation (estimated at 272 students per year). The researchers estimate that, at any given time, students who benefit from the Dream Act will make up 0.6% of the total number of students in Maryland public colleges and universities.

“For most categories of students who take advantage of the Dream Act,” write the researchers, “the estimated total net fiscal plus private benefits are not only positive but large.” For each annual cohort of students who utilize the Dream Act, total net benefits to the economy are approximately $66 million in 2011 dollars.

Access the full working paper and a policy brief summarizing the study at

Posted by dwinnick at October 8, 2012 9:31 AM