College dreams threatened for undocumented students

The state of Washington’s College Bound program has left many high school students vying for college feeling pessimistic and misled.

According to the Seattle Times, some estimates state that nearly half of the students in the college preparatory program lack the needed immigration forms that would allow them to legally enroll in a Washington college or university.

The program, which enrolled its first set of students in the 2007-2008 school year, gives middle school students from lower income families a scholarship to a Washington college. To remain in the program, students must maintain their high grades, keep out of trouble, and successfully graduate from high school. One of the less-advertised facts of the program, however, is that all participants must also apply for federal financial aid when it comes time to apply to college. With the FAFSA forms requiring a valid Social Security number, many undocumented students who have already completed most of the program are finding out that their college dreams may be gone.

In light of new immigration policies, immigration reform advocates, including some Washington officials, have continued to push all highly qualified students to apply for the program, in case the state or federal government issues a change that would allow illegal immigrants to become eligible for federal financial aid.

With Washington already having deeply invested in the education of many undocumented students, Ricardo Sanchez, director of the Latino Educational Achievement Program, believes the state should not end withits obligation to these intelligent students at the conclusion of high school.

“We have a wealth of talent among them,” Sanchez said during his interview with the Times.

To help students without Social Security numbers, green cards or U.S. student visas, some states are working to pass a resolution that will extend their tuition assistance programs to include undocumented students. The Education Equity for DREAMers Act is currently being considered by the New York legislature. The act aims to provide a path to citizenship for young people who were hoping to achieve U.S. Citizenship through the federal DREAM act, which failed to pass the House of Representatives in 2010.