Prop. 300 creates obstacles for pupils, schools
Feb. 28, 2007
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 28, 2007 12:00 AM
For students who cannot prove legal residency, Proposition 300 has made pursuing higher education a tall task financially.
While the Arizona Board of Regents is determining how to enforce the new law, students apparently have few options to pay for annual tuition costs that will top $15,000 for out-of-state students at Arizona State University.
The Maricopa Community Colleges district plans to ask students their immigration status but is still trying to determine how it will verify responses to that question.
The voter-approved proposition requires undocumented immigrants to pay out-of-state tuition to attend Arizona's public universities and colleges and bans state financial aid or scholarships for those students. Without a valid Social Security number, federal financial aid is not an option.
But private scholarships sometimes do not require a recipient to have legal residency.
Although that may give undocumented students a chance at attending college, educators and immigration experts say it will be tough to come up with enough money.
"There are some private donors that are willing to help out," said Josh Bernstein, director of federal policy for the National Immigration Law Center. But undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most private scholarships, he said.
Many undocumented immigrants now see their only hope for attending college in the federal DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants who grow up in the United States and graduate from high school to attend public colleges for in-state tuition and eventually gain citizenship.
It's usually the "best and the brightest" of undocumented immigrant students who pursue higher education, Bernstein said. He argues those students would provide a positive contribution to the country's economy.
But supporters of Proposition 300 said that undocumented residents who receive in-state tuition put a heavy financial burden on the entire education system. In-state tuition, they said, should be for legal residents who can legally enter the workforce.
Nearly 600 students and their supporters marched toward the site of the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale on Jan. 8 to protest the proposition. The students delivered a letter to BCS officials, asking for support of the proposed federal DREAM Act.a