ASU ends scholarship program for illegal immigrants
Arizona Republic
Feb. 16, 2008

John Faherty and Maxine Park
A controversial scholarship that benefited Arizona State University students who are in the country illegally has quietly faded away.

As many as 200 students who graduated from Arizona high schools received the private scholarship money through the university this year.

But now, the money is spent, and ASU is advising students who depended on it to "seek private funding sources."

The scholarships were a response to Proposition 300, a voter-approved law that requires illegal immigrants to pay the out-of-state tuition rate at the state's public universities and colleges.

The law also prohibits those students from receiving any type of financial assistance funded with taxpayer money.

In September, ASU President Michael Crow said the university was helping students with private money already in the school's coffers.

Based on Crow's estimate that 150 to 200 students would receive the aid, the total amount disbursed was approximately $1.8 million.

Luis Avila is a 25-year-old ASU student involved with several campus groups that work with Latino students, some of them undocumented. He said he is already hearing from students who will lose their scholarship.

"They don't know what they are going to do," Avila said. "We are going to lose a lot of brilliant minds."

Terri Shafer, assistant vice president of the Office of Public Affairs, wrote in an e-mail that ASU will continue to try to help the students.

"ASU is committed to the enrollment and graduation of all qualified students," Shafer wrote. "Arizona law does not allow undocumented students to receive aid that is supported by state funding. Students do, however, have the ability to seek private funding sources, as private-scholarship criteria are set by the individual donor."

ASU will provide a list of private funding sources for interested students. On the list are some sources that don't take citizenship status into consideration of scholarships and grants.

State Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, is thrilled ASU will no longer be providing money to these students.

"The university should never have been complicit in bypassing the will of the voters," Kavanagh said. Prop. 300 passed in 2006 with the support of nearly seven out of 10 voters. "They were giving tuition breaks to illegal immigrants."

Rusty Childress, founder of the group United for a Sovereign America, is also pleased by the news.

"I've been a supporter of ASU in the past but not with this scholarship," Childress said. "If I was a dog, my tail would be wagging."

Avila said the loss of scholarship money through the university will affect far more than the estimated 200 illegal immigrants attending ASU.

"It sends a clear message to high-school students that it will be impossible for them to go to college," he said. "It's a hopeless message."

Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett contributed to this article.