Undocumented students are turning to ‘crowdfunding’ to pay for their college tuition since most traditional sources of financial aid are not available to them.
Some undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition rates but not much else. According to FinAid, the majority of all student aid, including Federal student aid, requires the recipient to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) or an eligible non-citizen. While most Hispanic-centric scholarships, like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, require that a student be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
There are an estimated 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high schools each year. These children are guaranteed an education in the public school system through grade 12.
Some universities and colleges welcome undocumented students and offer them financial aid, but that is not the majority. Earlier this year, University of Notre Dame announced changes to its admission policies allowing the undocumented to apply and providing financial aid to defer the cost of tuition.
The enterprising students are turning to sites like Pave, GoFundMe and ScholarMatch among others.
Pave connects college students, entrepreneurs and others with financial backers. Six months after students graduate they begin paying a negotiated percentage of their income to their backers. Payments can continue for upto 10 years.
On GoFundMe prospective students create a web page with their story. Once the fundraising campaign starts student can request a withdrawal of the money at any time without a need to repay. Unlike Kickstarter there are no time limits for the fundraising campaign and the student can leave their page up indefinitely.
ScholarMatch helps donors contribute to the college tuition of promising young students.
USA Today tells the story of Peruvian-born Jimmy Documet. He has raised over $4,000 on GoFundMe toward the $12,000 in-state annual tuition for University Connecticut-Stamford. Documet also works three jobs to finance his education.
Most sites require some type of narrative, financial goals and an explanation of experience the person has to accomplish their goal.