Battle Within States: Financial aid, Tuition Equity and Undocumented Students

This year, many states in the nation dealt with the issue of undocumented students and their chances for higher. For the most part, there was an overall improvement in the last decade for some states while others have prohibited and banned any undocumented student from going to college.

SOURCE: NILC

Ultimately, the national DREAM Act failed during Obama's term in office but it didn't stop individual states from helping undocumented students.

The only two states up to this point that ban undocumented students from entering college are Alabama and South Carolina. There are also a few college systems in Georgia that prohibit the entrance of these students. This has caused a lot of controversy and now even more since Alabama recently passed a law that intimidated many immigrants and caused them to flee the state. The result of this law was that farmers were short on workers and lost some of their crops as they rotted from the lack of immigrant workers.

Some states have decided to go a different route to solve this issue. Texas, for example, is one of two states that help students by charging in-state tuition as well as offering financial aid in the form of grants from the state itself. The grants alone totaled $7.8 million in the Fiscal year of 2010.

This is a rare instance of the state system working in favor of undocumented students despite it being a red, southern state. But this is no surprise since a good portion of the state's population is Hispanic and according to the 2010 Census, Hispanics make up about 37.6% of the total population in Texas.

Other states that have tuition equity laws like Texas are Washington, California, New Mexico, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island and Maryland. Even with these states stepping up to help undocumented students, there is still a major battle to get rid of what some would call "rewarding those that break our immigration laws."

The states will continue to battle with this issue and anything could happen. For example, Wisconsin lost its tuition equity when it was included in an omnibus budget measure. This was a state where undocumented students lost ground despite ardent protests against this measure.

Overall, there is a positive trend for undocumented students. Texas and New Mexico are the only ones offering financial aid like grants. This battle isn't over and it will continue to come up as long as there is no plan by the federal government to solve this immigration problem. What's your opinion?

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