Term Paper: College Admission and Financial Aid for Illegal

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College Admission and Financial Aid for Illegal Immigrants

Illegal immigration is one of the most controversial topics in modern society. Some people advocate severely punishing illegal immigrants, increased border patrols, and greater restrictions on legal immigration. On the other hand, some people believe that America should open up its borders, allow larger numbers of legal immigrants per year, and extend the rights of American citizenship to immigrants, without regard to their legal status. Regardless of one's position on the issue, the fact remains that an increasing number of illegal immigrants have been graduating from American high schools each year. In fact, approximately 65,000 illegal immigrants graduate each year. (Barbassa, 2006). Not surprisingly, this has resulted in an increasing number of illegal immigrants applying to American higher educational institutions each year. This leaves the institutions with two complex problems. The first problem is whether or not the institutions should admit illegal immigrants for study. The second problem, which depends on how an institution chooses to resolve the first issue, is how these higher educational institutions should deal with the provision of financial aid to students who are illegal immigrants. How the federal government, state governments, and individual schools choose to resolve these issues can have a tremendous impact on individual undocumented students seeking to obtain college educations, and a broader impact on whole groups of immigrants.

Why are college admission and financial aid for illegal immigrants such controversial issues? Advocates for financial aid for illegal immigrants make several cogent arguments. The first argument often centers on the fact that many of these immigrants were brought here, as children, by their parents, and have not intentionally broken U.S. immigration laws. Furthermore, many illegal immigrants are undocumented because of bureaucratic paper delays, and will receive their documentation either while attending the institute of higher education, or shortly thereafter. Advocates of financial aid for illegal immigrants also point to the fact that these people are staying in the United States, regardless of whether or not they obtain a higher education. Because of their illegal status, undocumented students are frequently among the more economically disadvantaged people in America. Therefore, their ability to obtain a higher education depends largely upon their ability to obtain financial aid or other forms of financial assistance through institutes of post-secondary education. Because of this financial disadvantage, many advocates suggest that denying these undocumented students the right to financial aid is, therefore, tantamount to denying them a post-secondary education. Doing so is ultimately detrimental to the American economy, because "education increases tax revenues and decreases spending on welfare, health care, and law enforcement." (Kantrowitz, 2006). The simple fact is that most illegal immigrants are not being subjected to even the threat of deportation, and that they will remain in the country whether or not they obtain a post-secondary education. Therefore, advocates of college admissions and financial aid for illegal immigrants suggest that post-secondary education benefits not only illegal immigrants, but also the rest of American society.

Advocates of financial aid for illegal immigrants have an additional argument. Because many illegal immigrants would simply not be able to attend post-secondary institutions without some type of financial aid, and a high school diploma has little value in the workforce, proponents of this movement suggest that increasing access to higher education decreases the rate of high school dropouts in the illegal immigrant population. For example, "in 1986, an estimated 86,000 students dropped out of Texas public schools costing the state $17.12 billion. By 1998, the number of dropouts increased to almost 1.2 million with the costs estimated at $319 billion." (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2006). By extending the possibility of a college education to illegal immigrants, it is hoped that fewer of them will drop out of high-school, resulting in a lower fiscal cost to the state, regardless of whether those students actually enroll in a post-secondary educational institution.

Opponents of college admissions and financial aid for illegal aliens also make several valid points. They point out that many illegal immigrants come from families that have escaped the very tax burden that funds financial aid and most public educational institutions. Therefore, when these undocumented students receive educations at public institutes or financial aid, their opponents say that they do so without having ever contributed to the taxes that fund such programs. In many cases this argument may be true, but there are many instances where it may not be true. Undocumented aliens oftentimes do shoulder a portion of the tax burden by obtaining tax identification numbers, which are unrelated to their status as citizens, but identify them for tax needs. Furthermore:

Illegal immigrants pay taxes just like everyone else. For example, when illegal immigrants purchase goods in California, a refrigerator for example, the store where they buy such merchandise is required by law to charge 7.5% of the price in taxes. Therefore, no matter what misinformed people say, everyone who lives in the United States, legally or not, has to pay taxes. (Guevara, 2001).

However, opponents also correctly mention the fact that many state colleges and universities are already extremely overburdened by applicants. There is absolutely no way to deny the validity of that argument; some of the more popular educational institutes have seen their number of applicants double or even triple within the last 20 years. Furthermore, this increase in applications is not solely due to a greater number of unqualified students applying to those institutions; the number of qualified applicants has also continued to increase. The result has been that many public universities and colleges that were previously accessible for average students have become more selective, and many U.S. citizens will fail to meet their more-stringent admission requirements.

Therefore, admitting illegal aliens to schools reduces the number of spaces available to citizens and non-citizens with appropriate documentation.

In addition, opponents point out that the competition for financial aid is even fiercer than the competition for admission. The fact is that there is only so much financial aid available, and there is a tremendous need for financial aid among citizens and legal immigrants. Opponents correctly indicate that making financial aid available to undocumented immigrants reduces the amount available to U.S. citizens and documented aliens. Even allowing illegal immigrants to access private scholarships theoretically reduces the amount of financial aid available to citizens and documented aliens, because that scholarship money would theoretically be made available to students regardless of what type of conditions were placed on the distribution of scholarship money. In addition to financial aid, undocumented students are sometimes eligible for in-state tuition. In-state tuition provides significant savings for students, because in-state tuition is frequently less than half of what out-of-state students would pay in tuition. Opponents of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants point out that doing so places illegal immigrants in a more favorable tuition position than U.S. citizens who reside in other states. Finally, opponents point out that permitting illegal aliens to enroll in post-secondary schools, receive financial aid, or pay in-state tuition rates are all contrary to U.S. immigration laws and reward people for breaking the law.

Regardless of one's personal position on the issue, research into the issue makes one thing crystal clear: American institutes of higher education have not reached a consensus regarding the admission of illegal immigrants or the provision of financial aid to illegal immigrants. This is not surprising given that the federal government's positions on the issue seem to vacillate and appear inconsistent. Individual states seem to have more consistent positions regarding the issues, which means that many students' rights and access to education are dependent upon things such as where they are domiciled, where they attended high-school, and how long they have been at a particular institute of higher education. Furthermore, when states have not been clear about their guidelines for illegal immigrants, the decisions have been left to individual institutions, which can result in tremendous disparity from college to college. Despite these difficulties, it is relatively easy to spot general trends in American institutions. First, almost all institutions, both public and private, acknowledge that illegal immigrants have a right to attend institutions of higher education. In addition, there is some type of consensus regarding financial aid; generally, financial aid is not available for illegal immigrants. However, there are ways for illegal immigrants to obtain financial aid. In order to understand how illegal immigrants can obtain financial aid, and what type of schools offer this aid, this paper approaches financial aid from several different viewpoints. First, the paper investigates the general approach to financial aid. This approach includes a discussion of federal laws, state laws, federally-sponsored financial aid, state-sponsored financial aid, public scholarships, and private scholarships. However, a general overview only reveals what type of aid may be available to undocumented students. Therefore, the paper will also discuss the specific financial aid policies of various institutions. Combined, the two approaches will give the reader a greater understanding of the whether illegal immigrants have access to American institutes of higher learning, the conditions, if… [END OF PREVIEW]

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College Admission and Financial Aid for Illegal.  (2006, November 6).  Retrieved May 23, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/college-admission-financial-aid-illegal/75403

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