When the conversation about undocumented immigrants comes up, there are passionate opinions on both sides of the political spectrum. An undocumented college student is any individual of college age living in the United States illegally. This means they may have been brought here by their parents, crossing the border illegally, or any other way they entered the United States without proper application and paperwork.
On one side of the argument are those who believe undocumented aliens should be deported and sent home and have to reapply to enter the country legally. On the other side of the argument are those who believe these undocumented college-age students can be tremendously beneficial for the United States now and well into the future.
Getting access to financial assistance to pay for college can be challenging for somebody who is not in the country in which they live legally. Most opportunities for financial assistance to the government are for legal United States citizens or legal US residents only. That can leave millions of undocumented college students on the outside looking in. For many of these young college students, they may be working multiple jobs, relying on family members and friends, and doing everything they can to afford ever increasing tuition fees just to earn a degree and lay the foundation for a strong future.
When you begin looking up scholarships for undocumented college students, one thing becomes clear: there are plenty of websites that make it seem as though there are numerous scholarship opportunities for these college students, but there aren’t.
That’s because of the legal ramifications involved in any college or university that receives federal funding providing scholarships to men or women of college-age who may be considered breaking the law by being in the country illegally. There are also a number of problems that other organizations face when trying to offer these undocumented college students some financial support and assistance.
When you begin looking at these other websites that advertised numerous undocumented student scholarships, you begin to realize the tricks they play. They may boast that there are plenty of opportunities for undocumented college students to gain financial support and assistance in order to attend college, but when you actually look at the list of scholarships they are generally available to any current college student, regardless of whether or not they are immigrants.
On top of that, most of the scholarships that end up being listed on the sites are only available to legal US citizens or residents of the country. That still leaves out undocumented college students.
So what options are left?
Since undocumented college students cannot legally apply for most of these scholarship opportunities or financial student loans or other systems to the government, it can seem as though they are left out in the cold with no other options.
However, more states are beginning to provide educational opportunities to undocumented college students. For example, California, New York, and Connecticut all provide free education opportunities at state universities to undocumented college students.
Not every state is going to provide these opportunities. It is a hot topic with regard to political discussions and those considered ‘on the right’ generally oppose illegal immigration or government-backed programs that provide financial assistance to these undocumented individuals. Those people that are considered ‘on the left’ generally support illegal immigration and providing opportunities for undocumented college students to at least have the chance to pursue a career they want.
The importance of a college education.
Many of these undocumented college students actually watch their parents go off to work at manual labor jobs, spending eight, 10, and even more hours every day, six or seven days a week working just to make ends meet. Their parents, like most American parents, want their children to have a better life and more opportunities than they had. As a result, they all understand the value of a college education.
Today, the majority of career opportunities require at least a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in some chosen field of study. For those workers who wish to excel and move up the corporate ladder or gain more success in the future, graduate level degrees, such as a Masters or PhD, are almost a necessity.
What can these undocumented college students do?
They should focus first on those states that are offering either free tuition or at least tuition assistance to undocumented college students, such as California, New York, and Connecticut, as mentioned above. This can certainly limit the options for those students with regard to colleges and universities they can attend. These three states are not the only ones, but they are the first to offer these opportunities. This incredible opportunity is available through the independent states university system.
These undocumented college students can also look to private colleges and universities for certain opportunities. For example, if a student is accepted to Harvard, thanks to their endowment fund, Harvard University will cover all tuition and related expenses for any college student who has a specific financial need for that assistance.
Regardless of what side of the political argument a person stands upon when it comes to undocumented or illegal immigrants, there are still plenty of opportunities for these college age students to earn a degree and build a better life for themselves, which is what their parents likely wanted for them all along.