How Undocumented College Students Can Prepare for School This Fall

With the recent changes in immigration policies, college students face various fears in attending school. - Courtesy photo
With the recent changes in immigration policies, college students face various fears in attending school. – Courtesy photo

By Crystal Trillo

There are many in the U.S. who plan to go on to achieve a higher education. However, with recent changes in immigration policies many face the difficulty of feeling insecure in going to school. Many who are a part of minority groups are fearful of the drastic reforms and policies that have been implemented by the Trump administration, and what it could mean in terms of going or returning to school.

According to Education Reform Now, “Latinx students have made great progress in recent decades, but the Trump administration’s immigration policies threaten to undo that progress.” With the threat of repeal of the Dream Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which helps provide financial aid, many students feel that they are losing the opportunity of admission to a college and what it would mean for their status within the U.S.

With the fears and stresses about the upcoming semester, there are steps students can take to prepare for admissions and financial aid processing. The first, and most important, step is knowing that “there is no federal or state law that prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges” according to College Board. Some schools may classify undocumented students as foreign, but ultimately cannot turn them away due to their undocumented status.

The next step is to speak to a counselor and discuss your situation and what plan of action to take. Counselors should be familiar with most federal and state policies regarding admissions and financial aid, and can assist in directing students towards the resources they will need. For example, knowing that the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act – or Dream Act – allows eligible undocumented students to receive financial aid. This act allows undocumented students of low-income families to apply to receive financial assistance for tuition and other necessities.

While there are plenty of precautions and preparations that students can take, colleges and universities are also preparing for students by giving them a welcoming atmosphere. Many schools are protesting the reformed immigration policies and understand the impact they have on the students and their families. Some schools for example are listed as “safe haven” or “sanctuary” schools. According to EdSource, “Definitions of ‘sanctuary’ vary from district to district, but in most cases it means that school staff will not allow federal immigration agents on campus without a warrant, subpoena, or court order.” This means that school officials will not hand over their students and families over to immigration authorities, but instead protect them and their status.

While the start of a new school term can be stressful and scary for those who are classified as undocumented, there are many resources available to students who want to pursue higher education. The right to knowledge and education is something that should not easily be taken away and, despite recent actions like the plans to suspend the DACA program, there are always people who are willing to serve and protect those who want to exercise their right to an education.

Below are a few helpful links with more information:


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