For the first time, the College Board has released a resource guide intended to help undocumented immigrant students seeking to pursue a college education.
The guide includes information on college admission, financial aid, scholarships and support groups for students residing in states that provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrant students attending public colleges and universities. Summaries of the states’ in-state tuition laws and how to qualify also are included. Web site links and email contacts for various support organizations and information sources located in those states are provided, too.
The report was released on Thursday at the organization’s “Preparate” conference in Miami. The College Board organization administers the SAT exams and the Advanced Placement program.
The guide does not include state-specific resources for students residing in areas without in-state tuition laws on the books. It also does not address the policies of private universities.
Fourteen states currently have laws that allow undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition. The state-specific resources listed in the guide cover eleven of those states: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
Despite backlash against undocumented immigrants in many parts of the country, some states have expanded benefits for such students. Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island just passed in-state tuition laws in 2011. In addition, California and Illinois have expanded undocumented students’ access to state financial aid programs.
In much of the United States, undocumented immigrant students must pay higher out-of-state tuition rates that can make it difficult to pursue a higher education, particularly because they cannot qualify for federal financial aid. However, a number of universities have decided to provide financial aid to undocumented students with their own institutional funds.
The guide was created by Alejandra Rincon, an immigrant rights activist who holds a doctorate in education administration from the University of Texas. The document’s release comes as the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant students, has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress. The College Board organization strongly supports the act, and submitted statements in support of its passage when Senate hearings were held last year.
There has been some political movement around these issues. On Wednesday, Florida Republican representative David Rivera introduced an alternative, the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act, or STARS, which would allow undocumented students brought to the United States at a young age to apply for a five-year non-immigrant status.