Saturday, September 8, 2007

Arizona State University Ahead of the Rest of U.S. - Publically Supports Undocumented Students

ASU helps migrants find tuition
Yvonne Wingett and Richard Ruelas
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 8, 2007 12:00 AM

As many as 200 undocumented immigrants who graduated from Arizona high schools have received private scholarship money through Arizona State University to help pay for out-of-state tuition this semester.

University President Michael Crow said at a Friday luncheon that aid has gone to 150 to 200 students, and based on his estimate, the total amount disbursed is about $1.8 million.

The program uses private money already in the university's coffers to help bridge the gap for Arizona high-school graduates ineligible for in-state tuition because of Proposition 300, a new voter-approved law that requires undocumented residents to pay the higher out-of-state tab, Crow said.
These are students showing up with Arizona high-school diplomas," Crow said. "Some of these students don't have immigration status. We say, 'OK, you went to an Arizona high school,' so . . . we work it out in the financial-aid calculator."

The gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition for full-time students at ASU's Tempe campus is about $12,000.

James Rund, vice president of university undergraduate initiatives, said the undocumented students from Arizona will not take priority over out-of-state students with documentation. He said private aid is given on the basis of financial need. He said most of the students who receive the private aid are full-time students.

Proposition 300 was one of four immigration-related measures approved at the polls last year.

The measure requires undocumented immigrants to pay the out-of-state tuition rate at the state's public universities and colleges.Proposition 300 also prohibits students from receiving any type of financial assistance that is funded with state money, and it requires schools to determine and report twice a year to the state Legislature how many undocumented immigrants are attending their schools.

Nearly 5,000 people in Arizona have been denied in-state college tuition, financial aid and adult-education classes this year under Proposition 300, according to a recent Joint Legislative Budget Committee report.

According to the report, 1,500 students from ASU and the University of Arizona were denied financial aid or in-state financial status because they couldn't prove legal status. An additional 1,790 community-college students were also affected.

Crow mentioned ASU's private-scholarship program during a speech at a leadership-awards luncheon put on by the non-profit Valle del Sol, Inc., attended by 1,700 people in downtown Phoenix.

His statement was met with applause from the mostly Latino crowd. In an interview after his short speech, which emphasized access to ASU, Crow said that helping undocumented students does not circumvent Proposition 300's intent.

"The voters have spoken," he said. "They don't want their money being used for these students."

He said he has targeted some donors to help with this financial-aid program but said he has not yet received significant contributions. He declined to say whom he has approached.

UA and Northern Arizona University don't have formal initiatives to provide money for undocumented students; however, any student is eligible to apply for private financial aid.

At UA, six students are getting some assistance from privately funded aid, although university officials didn't know if it was enough to make up the gap.

State Treasurer Dean Martin, a Republican and former state senator who championed Proposition 300, said Crow's program proves the law is working. He was aware of other private efforts to raise money for undocumented students, he said, but not Crow's.

"Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for them, and this is exactly what we were looking for," Martin said. "I don't have a problem with them going after private money, just don't use taxpayer money. That's all I care about."

A student who gave her name only as Evelyn, an undocumented daughter of Mexican immigrants, had not heard about the scholarship program but said she could use the money. The 21-year-old was accepted at ASU for the fall.

But when she signed up for a history class, the tuition was $2,156, unaffordable on her salary as an assistant to a real-estate agent.

"I freaked out and said, 'Maybe I'll wait and just think about this,' " she said.

"I looked for private scholarships but couldn't find any for me. If I could get this ASU scholarship, even to pay for half, it would help a lot."

previously posted on Immigration Prof Blog

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