by Ivon Guzman
Dreamers are immigrants who qualify for residency status since they entered the U.S. involuntarily as minors. Many of these dreamers are students that aspire for a brighter future but find themselves struggling when applying to college. One of the biggest barriers is financial assistance.
Dave Tomar, an educational author and journalist, states in 5 Things Undocumented Students Should Know Before Attending College in the U.S., “Every year, 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school…. Less than 10% continue to college.” These students are not FAFSA eligible and must find scholarships that help them pay their tuition. Every student has a different situation; therefore, he or she must acknowledge all of the options available to them after high school.
When it comes to school options, dreamers have the same options as any U.S. student. Currently, there is no law prohibiting the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges. The National Association of Secondary School Principals claims there are currently 21 states that provide in-state tuition. Dreamers can attend public or private institutions that partner with scholarship associations. A benefit of some private institutions is that regardless of status, students are eligible to receive aid provided by the school. Lizbeth Marquez, an early childhood major at Dominican University, is a great example of this. She acknowledges that she is, “Proud to attend an institution that has given her so much aid and support these past years.”
If students find themselves struggling to pay for college, they can consider the possibility of attending a community college. Many are hesitant to attend community colleges because they may think it would take them longer to receive their bachelor’s degree. Albino Salinas, a student of Harold Washington College, felt this way at one point but is glad to have attended community college. For him, it was a step closer to reach his goal. Rather than stopping school, he took classes he knew he would have to take regardless of where he transferred. It is also good to note the Star Scholarship exists for qualified students, which allows them to attend college with no tuition expense. If the Star Scholarship is not awarded, community college is often still a cheaper option.
If none of these options work for dreamer students, there is also the possibility of the students taking a break and working for a while. Once working, they can start saving and attend college when they have the funds or attend as a part-time student. It may prolong their graduation date, but it should not be something that they feel ashamed about. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong option if you are fighting to accomplish a dream.