Undocumented students face numerous barriers to higher education

By Griselda Nevarez Every year, an estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools all across the United States, but there are a number of barriers that keep many of them from going on to college. A report released Friday by the Generation Progress and the Center for American Progress highlights some of those barriers. “Undocumented young people have led fights in the states for years to access higher education,” Zenen Jaimes Perez, policy advocate for Generation Progress, said in a statement. “However, too many are still unable to access higher education.” SEE ALSO: New legislation encourages in-state tuition for undocumented students One of the main barriers undocumented students face is the soaring cost of college tuition, according to the report. Over the last three decades, the cost of tuition has increased by more than 1,000 percent. Yet undocumented students are denied the opportunity to turn to federal financial aid for help. Some states have also passed laws barring undocumented students from paying in-state tuition rates and from receiving state financial aid. “Without these benefits, many undocumented students pay around 61 percent more to attend the same college or university as their peers, even though they attended the same K-12 schools,” the Center for American Progress said in a statement. Supporters of these laws requiring undocumented students to pay out-of-state tuition argue taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize the education of students who are in the country unlawfully. But opponents argue that by making it difficult to attend college, states are creating a class of uneducated young people. At the same time, some states have taken steps to make getting a college education easier to reach for undocumented students. Texas was the first state to pass a law in 2001 allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. Since then, 15 more states have followed suit and have passed similar legislation. Four states—Texas, California, New Mexico, and Washington—have gone even further by passing laws that allow undocumented students to access publicly funded education grants. SEE ALSO: ‘La Vida Robot’ shows how four undocumented students beat the odds However, some states also bar undocumented students from attending public colleges and universities. In Alabama and South Carolina, undocumented states are banned from enrolling in any public secondary institution. In Georgia, undocumented students are barred from enrolling in some public colleges and universities. Besides tuition cost, the report lists other barriers that make it difficult for undocumented students to attain a college education. Those factors include structural barriers like lack of adequate mentoring, limited information on eligibility from postsecondary institutions and a lack of continued financing for tuition and other living costs. Furthermore, the report adds that high poverty rates, the need to work to help support their families and unsupportive college environments also “conspire to lock the door to higher education for undocumented students.” “Undocumented students are a part of our community and the future of our country,” Perez stated. “They should be able to access the same higher-education benefits as their peers in order to participate in our economy.” SEE ALSO: New scholarship fund aims to help Dreamers go to college But the report notes these challenges can be overcome. It lists a number of actions that can be taken to “ensure undocumented students have the same opportunities to succeed as their peers.” Those actions include: Passing immigration reform legislation in Congress that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented youth and includes education provisions, like allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition and access federal education benefits Allowing beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program access Pell Grants Passing more state laws that allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates and qualify for publically funded state education benefits Passing state laws that require professional development for high school and college personnel to increase the understanding of what postsecondary options are available to undocumented students Doing more to train college advisors and administrators to address the needs of undocumented students and create a more welcoming campus environment Encouraging more colleges and universities to expand financial aid opportunities for undocumented students SEE ALSO: Closing educational achievement gaps would grow the U.S. economyThe post Undocumented students face numerous barriers to higher education appeared first on Voxxi.

A new report highlights some of the barriers undocumented students face as they try to get a higher education. (Flickr/Antonio Villaraigosa)

By Griselda Nevarez

Every year, an estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools all across the United States, but there are a number of barriers that keep many of them from going on to college.

A report released Friday by the Generation Progress and the Center for American Progress highlights some of those barriers.

“Undocumented young people have led fights in the states for years to access higher education,” Zenen Jaimes Perez, policy advocate for Generation Progress, said in a statement. “However, too many are still unable to access higher education.”

SEE ALSO: New legislation encourages in-state tuition for undocumented students

One of the main barriers undocumented students face is the soaring cost of college tuition, according to the report. Over the last three decades, the cost of tuition has increased by more than 1,000 percent. Yet undocumented students are denied the opportunity to turn to federal financial aid for help.

Some states have also passed laws barring undocumented students from paying in-state tuition rates and from receiving state financial aid.

“Without these benefits, many undocumented students pay around 61 percent more to attend the same college or university as their peers, even though they attended the same K-12 schools,” the Center for American Progress said in a statement.

Supporters of these laws requiring undocumented students to pay out-of-state tuition argue taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize the education of students who are in the country unlawfully. But opponents argue that by making it difficult to attend college, states are creating a class of uneducated young people.

At the same time, some states have taken steps to make getting a college education easier to reach for undocumented students.

Texas was the first state to pass a law in 2001 allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. Since then, 15 more states have followed suit and have passed similar legislation. Four states—Texas, California, New Mexico, and Washington—have gone even further by passing laws that allow undocumented students to access publicly funded education grants.

SEE ALSO: ‘La Vida Robot’ shows how four undocumented students beat the odds

However, some states also bar undocumented students from attending public colleges and universities. In Alabama and South Carolina, undocumented states are banned from enrolling in any public secondary institution. In Georgia, undocumented students are barred from enrolling in some public colleges and universities.

Besides tuition cost, the report lists other barriers that make it difficult for undocumented students to attain a college education. Those factors include structural barriers like lack of adequate mentoring, limited information on eligibility from postsecondary institutions and a lack of continued financing for tuition and other living costs.

Furthermore, the report adds that high poverty rates, the need to work to help support their families and unsupportive college environments also “conspire to lock the door to higher education for undocumented students.”

“Undocumented students are a part of our community and the future of our country,” Perez stated. “They should be able to access the same higher-education benefits as their peers in order to participate in our economy.”

SEE ALSO: New scholarship fund aims to help Dreamers go to college

But the report notes these challenges can be overcome. It lists a number of actions that can be taken to “ensure undocumented students have the same opportunities to succeed as their peers.”

Those actions include:

  • Passing immigration reform legislation in Congress that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented youth and includes education provisions, like allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition and access federal education benefits
  • Allowing beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program access Pell Grants
  • Passing more state laws that allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates and qualify for publically funded state education benefits
  • Passing state laws that require professional development for high school and college personnel to increase the understanding of what postsecondary options are available to undocumented students
  • Doing more to train college advisors and administrators to address the needs of undocumented students and create a more welcoming campus environment
  • Encouraging more colleges and universities to expand financial aid opportunities for undocumented students

SEE ALSO: Closing educational achievement gaps would grow the U.S. economy

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