Photo: undocumented students
Anyone applying for college knows it can be a stressful experience, but for undocumented immigrants, wanting to move on to higher education can seem like an unwinnable battle.
While some undocumented students don’t even know they can apply, others struggle to determine who will let them in and how they’ll pay for it.
As the country argues over undocumented immigration, those wishing to continue their education after high school are often stopped in their tracks as they realize that to apply, they’ll have to identify themselves.
“A lot of times students don’t apply,” said Donna Gill, a student records specialist at Hunter College in New York. “They don’t want to be identified. That’s a scary process.”
While certain states have banned undocumented immigrants from enrolling in their public universities and colleges, others allow it, but require them to pay out-of-state tuition. And private universities consider undocumented students to be international students and, if unable to pay that tuition, they’re turned away.
These students also do not qualify for federal loans, grants of work study programs. There are private scholarships available, but many require the applicant to file online with a Social Security number, and obtaining a paper application can prove difficult. That’s why Hunter College senior Sonia Guinansaca, who came to the U.S. from Ecuador when she was five, is now helping other undocumented students with a new mentoring program in New York.
“My guidance counselor said, ‘Oh, my God. You can’t go to college. That’s it,’” said Guinansaca, who applied anyway, and is now assisting others doing the same.
“We’re not going to give up.”