After years of failing, a bill approving financial aid for undocumented students will finally pass. The legislature says it has enough votes to put the bill on the Governor’s desk.
CT Mirror reports that the state currently offers $150 million in financial aid. Only in-state residents attending state colleges and universities can access the pool of money, though. But, it looks like that’ll change soon.
The General Assembly says this is the year the bill will finally pass. This same bill failed year after year due to staunch opposition from Republicans. However, it appears their views finally softened.
It might have something to do with a few restrictions in the bill. For example, undocumented students who came to CT before they turned 16 may access the funds. In addition, they must show proof that they attended a CT school for at least 2 years.
However, undocumented students who served in the military may also access financial aid. This also goes for those honorably discharged.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano praised the bill:
“This bill is about giving opportunity. What this bill is about is the importance of giving an education. Education is an equalizer. I am proud to stand here. I think it’s a great step forward. Washington, D.C., in all aspects has let down immigration time and time again, no matter what party is in charge – and this is a step for Connecticut to say, ‘We are not going to wait for you.’”
This bill now heads to the House. If approved, which looks extremely likely, it will land on Governor Malloy’s desk, with our governor already vowing to sign it.
Supporters say this bill will give every student an equal chance to succeed and contribute to society.
However, not everyone is happy to hear that the bill might pass this year. Opponents find the proposition unfair to legal residents who dutifully paid into the financial aid funds. Some even see this measure as a means to take even more away from legal residents.
Mostly, they fear this measure will give preference to undocumented students.
Opponents also expressed worry that the bill will cause overcrowding that will eventually push legal residents out of the funds.
Some also ask why should legal residents foot the education bill for those here illegally. Opponents also ask what’s to stop undocumented students from heading back to their home country after graduating, and leaving their financial debt behind for others to pay.
Another concern is the funding itself. If more people compete over the pool of $150m in financial aid, it would reduce the amount of assistance per resident. With that, it stoked concerns that people will eventually pay more into state coffers should that happen.
And, the biggest question of all: how much higher will the state raise the cap?
This comes at a critical time, too. The state still struggles with financial issues with a budget riddled with deficits.
Because of those exact pitfalls, the state cut funding to its public state colleges and universities.
However, undocumented students focused on the good this bill will bring. Many said the cost of public colleges and universities, especially for UConn, put further education out of reach.
Najely Clavijo, a senior at Danbury High School, came from Ecuador when she was only 13. She says she plans to attend community college to study computer engineering. However, money was a major concern for her family:
“I see many obstacles during my path. One of them is not having the money to go to college.”
Should this bill pass, it will no longer be an issue.
But, is this bill an issue to you? Is this a good move made by the state or do you think it’ll negatively affect students who are here legally?