Getting Students to College, Regardless of Immigration Status

shutterstock_221822014The Associated Press published an article late last week that recounts one student’s story about the challenges and successes one student faced as she worked her way through high school toward college. Read the AP story here. As a student without permanent legal status, Ivonne Barcenas was not able to attend her dream school–University of Georgia. However, she–and 45 other students–was awarded a four-year scholarship to Eastern Connecticticut College.

The scholarships, which also were awarded to 39 students who were accepted at Delaware State, were funded through TheDream.us. The program aims to help immigrant youth who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status attend and complete college. Though DACA’s future is politically uncertain, more information can be found here.

As a teacher, I waved many of my high school students off to college. But I also saw many who could not attend, because they lacked documentation and therefore were not eligible for the necessary federal financial aid. Having scholarships like TheDream.us can help fill that gap. One of my brightest students, a former ELL who had transitioned out into all honors and advanced classes, told me she could only afford community college without financial aid. Though she was successful at her school, I know she also could have been successful at other traditional 4-year schools. As more college and universities offer aid and scholarships to undocumented youth, I know that more students will have the opportunity to further their education.

A former teacher from a high ELL-incidence district in Massachusetts, Alea is now finishing her doctorate in Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also works at Mawi Learning as the School Partnership Specialist. When she isn't writing her dissertation, Alea can most often be found watching her beloved Red Sox, reading an unabashedly trashy romance novel, or eating her husband's homemade bread.

Category: Education