(Illegal) Immigrant students see ‘Real Hope’ for financial aid now

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Seattle Times: Ricardo Heredia has been plugging away at his bachelor’s degree for more than four years, taking breaks to work construction so he can earn enough to pay for another quarter of tuition.

But the 23-year-old business-administration major, whose family moved to the U.S. when he was 8 months old, hopes his fortunes will change this fall when Washington’s financial aid program for college students is extended to those who were illegally brought to the United States as children.

The Real Hope Act, signed into law last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, will extend State Need Grant (SNG) money to undocumented illegal students like Heredia who are studying in the state’s public two- and four-year colleges, as well as many private in-state colleges. Seventy colleges and universities in all are part of the program.

Figuring out which of these students qualifies for grant aid — which does not need to be paid back — is a challenge, because the federal aid form known as the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, won’t work if the applicant is not a citizen. College financial-aid officers use FAFSA data to determine whether students are eligible for SNG.

So Washington will contract with a website developer to create a special financial-aid form to determine which students are eligible, said Rachelle Sharpe, director of student financial assistance for the Washington Student Achievement Council.

The 15-month contract is for an estimated $100,000, and the website is expected to be up and running in April.

Heredia, a student at the University of Washington, Bothell, is going to take spring and summer quarter off to bank his construction-job money, then re-enter college in the fall. He’ll apply for SNG money, and hopes he’ll qualify for enough aid to finally be able to study full time.

Alejandra Perez, a UW-Bothell sophomore, is also hoping she’ll qualify. “I’m going to be checking on a daily basis, so the first time it (the website) comes out, I’m applying that day,” said Perez, 19, who has been living in the U.S. since she was 12 and graduated from Cleveland High School.

News about the new financial-aid website is available at  www.readysetgrad.org/wasfa.

When it passed the Real Hope Act, the Legislature boosted the amount of money available for SNG by $5 million, to $308 million for the 2014-15 academic year, to help pay for the additional students who will qualify. But the extra $5 million isn’t earmarked specifically for undocumented illegal immigrants, Sharpe said. The money will be distributed to colleges based on need, with each institution deciding who gets it.

In the meantime, undocumented illegal students who hope to tap into the aid should be applying for college now and completing any financial-aid paperwork that individual institutions require, Sharpe said.

Although fall 2014 freshman application deadlines have passed at most of the state’s selective schools — including the UW and private schools like Seattle University — many other state schools and all community colleges are still taking applications.

Sharpe also encourages all students — legal residents or not — to use the state’s scholarship-finding database, www.washboard.org, to find private scholarship money. Some scholarships accept undocumented illegal immigrants, and others are set up specifically for them.

Perez and Heredia both have private scholarships to help pay for college, although not enough to pay the full bill. Perez said that finding private scholarship money is time-consuming — she estimates she spent 100 hours last year writing essays and searching for scholarship dollars.

She’s also helped build an exhaustive list of scholarship opportunities for undocumented students, which is published on the UW-Bothell website.

State officials already know there’s not enough SNG money to go to everyone who qualifies. This year, about 74,000 are receiving it, but another 32,000 students who were eligible received no money. The additional $5 million will cover about 1,100 more students, Sharpe said. 

At four-year colleges and universities, the money is distributed on a sliding scale — students with the most need receive the largest sum, Sharpe said. But for community and technical colleges, which have a wide window of time to submit an application, the money is usually awarded to those students with need who meet a priority deadline.

“When you are a rolling-admission institution, it’s difficult to turn a student away today because you might have a lower-income student later,” Sharpe said.

Heredia is one of hundreds of students who helped lobby for passage of the bill. He said his parents sacrificed a great deal for him by crossing the border to seek a better life. His mother has not seen her parents for 23 years. “I’ll never be able to pay them back, but the closest thing I can come to that is getting an education,” he said.

So Washington State taxpayers are now paying for illegal immigrants to receive free education, good job! I feel badly for the tax-paying parents of kids who aren’t eligible for grants or are passed by for illegal aliens. Yet I would expect nothing less from Governor Inslee – elections have consequences.


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0 responses to “(Illegal) Immigrant students see ‘Real Hope’ for financial aid now

  1. I’m sorry, but my parents immigrated legally to the USA before the 1929 Stock Market Crash, spoke only English at home, did not teach us Italian, and made sure we understood we were native-born US citizens first, and we never had a single ‘entitlement’ or tax-payer provided benefit along the way.

    Somehow all four of us siblings managed; three of us got college and university under our belts, even if we had to work while attending school. How the Hell did all this other crapola get inserted into reality?

    Of course I understood and supported Veteran Benefits such as financial help w/their college, as they paid for it w/their lives on the line, but what’s w/all the rest? Not everybody needs a college education: we need many more of what used to be called ‘technical high schools’ when I was in my ‘teens [I’m 71 now].

    My oldest daughter decided to attend one in El Cerrito, CA; she became a top-notch mechanic & built her own race-car in those two years. She went on to become a civil engineer graduate from the U of California at Berkeley, one of the two best in the USA, and she too worked while she attended school.

    Both parties supported this BS, and because the largesse was so plentiful and easily forthcoming, why are we surprised that the quality of education has declined so much in so many areas, or that afterwards we have so many lost souls?

    • joseph..Many Thanks for your family experience…It’s what we WERE as a nation of immigrants. Stark contrast to today w/little responsibility / expectation required of immigrant or child, least of which is application for actual citizenship & subsequent progress toward it…EVEN if it means returning to actual country of citizenship & getting in line….maybe there should be “short-cuts” for the innocent, but don’t we think that the privileges of citizenship should go to …. dah, …. citizens?????!!! (at the least— voting, in-state tuitions, application as a resident/citizen to US colleges/universities and the subsequent federal grant programs for them…..??????? Why can’t they apply as a resident alien? Pay the price? Earn the tuition through a chance for academic scholarship like everyone else?????) How can we square that US citizens have to pay out-of-state tuitions to colleges/universities if they cross over the state line…..but illegal aliens/non-citizens get in-state rates ANYWHERE…many times even a full out grant just b/c they are “innocent” illegals??? My view is….5 minutes after they turn 18, they are no longer “innocent” bystanders to their own fate.. They are legal adultts, & have had the free US education to that point, they are under the laws of the US, and they need to comply…..How many 18-year-old boy-citizens have to show up and register for w/selective service? ALL OF THEM. No bleeding heart excuses……no bawl-baby cop outs…..no notes from Mommy….and no “never minds” from the US Gov’t.

      I descend largely fr earliest colonials, except for one….who came like your parents about the same time (a little before) from Italy…& in our family …it was the exact same as yours….first of all the proof at Ellis Island that there was a job, a place to live, and money enough to NOT be a burden on the American populace Also…ENGLISH was spoken at home only, so kids (my grandmother was one) would learn it perfectly growing up & not be confused educationally, & would understand fr birth to which country was owed love/allegiance/service for the many opportunities afforded. (And, BTW, my grandmother’s brothers ALL served in WW II, 2 of them fighting IN & against ITALY). And, if any kid brought home anything below a “B” in school…let’s just say the bald-faced truth: they got their asses beat and they never did THAT again. Ditto if they ever dared sass a teacher, not do the homework, lie about school work, or behave disrespectfully at school. excuses, no blaming the teacher(s), the school, society, job lay-offs, divorce, family problems of any kind, hurt feelings, not liking the teacher, not liking the subject, and yatta, yatta, yatta. They CAME HERE for those riches, like a free educationn, and no kid would ever be allowed to NOT receive and use those riches to further themselves…in a way that these immigrant parents NEVER had in their birth countries…..and if they dared “blow it off,” there was pure HELL to pay. So much easier to just do your homework. BELIEVE ME..different story, different country altogether today. 🙁
      The way we run our immigration policy today (or ignore it at the federal level) is quite like we run our foreign aide…..we hand it out like candy, straight frome the pockets of taxpayers…to buy future voters/allies (supposedly) in perpetuity…and without any prerequisites, subsequent benchmarks, tests, qualifications, pay-backs, or promise of even ALLEGIENCE to the country doling out the cash. Remember that garrish comic actor, Rip Torn, who used to make and entrance at times running down the aisles throwing out handfuls of (fake) cash & tinsel? That’s us…in particular…that’s OBAMA in today’s world.

  2. This crap makes me fly into a murderous rage! I’m so sick of criminals being rewarded for breaking our laws.

  3. I think the PC term should be ALF’s. People are getting all pissie about illegal, even though they are. Undocumented to me is the same thing,(see Hillary). So ALF’s work for me. No offense to the little furry guy Gordon Chumway. It saves me from wanting to go postal.

  4. Leeann Springer

    I grew up in a city that was like a “Second United Nations”. In Cleveland, Ohio ,My neighbors were from many other countries and they all came here “legally” and worked at jobs that most did not want. They were all proud Americans, and studied for the Naturalization Test and took the oath. One family was the Garcia’s who came on a work visa. They learned English, worked very hard and were proud to become Americans. My friends from other countries would find illegal immigration, to be highly offensive and very dishonest to their integrity. There was Mrs. Kosztyo, from Budapest, who sewed for rich people, mopped their floors and did whatever work she could find to make a living. She was proud of her new America and a dream come true, just to be here. She would chastise anyone who did not respect this country. However, all that is changed, in this current generation, due to the illegal alien usurper in the office who wants to destroy our country, I did not think we could have a worse president than Clinton, but Obama has proved that thought wrong.


  5. Kudos to the fools in this nation, who sat on their hands, and allowed this to happen. Electing, and reelecting, bozos who were only concerned with what would help their payday, when they retire from office (becoming partners in law practices, hired by past donors at 6-7 figure salaries, or lobbyists earning a cool mil). . Most members (politicians) of parties, are comprised of those who don’t care about the middle class, knowing that, by the contacts they made in DC, they are assured of a sound and comfortable life, for themselves and their families. I am happy that I don’t have kids, because this nation is in the toilet, I’ve got to give them credit though, the Hispanic illegals, in particular, have an agenda, much like the Dems, and they are relentless, and intent upon achieving what they want, regardless of whom they hurt. I despise it, but cannot dispute the fact, that their tactics are effective.

  6. Thank you DCG for this excellent post. I feel most sorry for the children of legal American taxpayers who cannot get one penny of financial aid. This is most grossly unfair!

  7. Another reason why America is 17 Trillion dollars in debt!


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