Two States Open University Gates to Locked-Out Undocumented Students

Undocumented students who are unable to access in-state tuition and scholarships in their home states now have another option. Under a new “Opportunity Scholarship,” DREAMers living in “locked out” states will be able to apply for scholarships at Eastern Connecticut State University or Delaware State University.

Delaware governor Jack Markell (D) and Connecticut governor Dan Malloy (D) have teamed up with the presidents of Eastern Connecticut State University and Delaware State University to open two of the nation’s public higher education institutions to undocumented students looking for an affordable, high-quality education. Students living in states that deny in-state tuition to undocumented students will now be able access affordable higher education in Delaware and Connecticut instead.

Every year, around 65,000 undocumented students join the millions of students that graduate from high school in America. But only 18 states allow undocumented students to access in-state tuition at higher education institutions and only six of those states allow these students to receive state financial aid. This leaves thousands of students without an affordable way to finance their education. Without access to scholarships and loans, undocumented students can pay an average of 61 percent more for out-of-state tuition at a public school in their home state —and it’s not just tuition on the bill. Books, housing, and food all add up for undocumented students who often work part- or full-time while attending school full-time in order to support themselves and their families. Because of these financial and emotional hurdles, only 8 percent of people immediately eligible for DACA complete their college degree.

The Opportunity Scholarship, which is run by TheDream.US, will give students who came to the United States as children the chance to continue their education and contribute to the American economy. The scholarship will provide up to 500 scholarships of up to $20,000 per year to DREAMers with DACA or TPS from Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

On Twitter, Gov. Jack Markell said, “DREAMers will make [Delaware State University] stronger, & helping these young people achieve their dreams will advance the entire country.”

Giving all students access to higher education not only helps the United States make technological and artistic leaps, but also improves the overall economy. Studies show that undocumented immigrants pay over $11 billion in state and local taxes every year and immigrants contribute $465 billion per year to the economythrough entrepreneurship, with minority-owned businesses creating two out of every three new jobs in United States. It’s clear that this new scholarship not only increases opportunity for students, but helps Connecticut, Delaware, and the entire country grow and prosper.

You can apply for an Opportunity Scholarship here. If you’re not in one of the 16 target states, check out our guide to other scholarships for undocumented students here.

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Chelsea Coatney is the Digital Director for Generation Progress.

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