A Cultural Fee?

Should undocumented students receive federal financial aid? In many states this is a very controversial topic but there should only be one side to the question.

Gretchen Baez

Many undocumented students only seek the opportunity to go to college, get a good job and help their families out of any more struggles, but the government’s policy takes that opportunity away from them by not allowing them to receive federal financial aid. Undocumented students should be eligible for financial aid regardless of their citizenship status because these students are really trying everything possible to live the “American dream” by having a successful future.


According to College Board the average cost an in-state student pays is $9,650, but if the student is not a resident they will be paying about twice as much—nearly $24,930 during the same academic year. Undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition only in some states of the U.S. Critics of legislation argue that in-state tuition is a privilege that should only be reserved for U.S. citizens, but that kind of thinking is wrong because it ignores the fact that many undocumented students had no say in whether or not to come here; should they be punished for their parents’ decisions? And these parents often made the decision to come to this country in order to help better their children’s lives. 

According to the Pew Research Center, there are nearly 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States and most children among that number were too young to even make the decision to come to this country illegally. Now growing up in a low-income household, their dreams of pursuing an education and better future (like any other U.S. citizen) are made  nearly impossible.

The parents of these students are usually working in housekeeping, landscaping, as nannies—a generation who tends to keep a low profile. After spending their whole lives being looked at as “minorities” they realized that is not what they want for their future generations. They strongly believe that their sons and daughters have the capacity to achieve big things and make this world a better place. Despite all the difficulties that immigrants face, that does not take success off their list of goals. Even if it means working two jobs while at the same time attending school just to continue their studies. Actions like these really show the passion immigrants have to get the careers they have been striving for their whole lives.  

Other than the pressure of the school’s cost, often without in-state tuition or financial aid, and the stress of having an illegal status, undocumented undergraduates also worry if the college they want to attend is “undocufriendly.” Will they feel accepted in the community they move into? A lot of college students experience a cultural shock once they leave the environment they grew up in. Now they feel responsible to “fit in,” when in reality they should already feel a part of the college community. All students no matter the title should not feel alone in the process of pursuing their dream. Like every other student, “undocumented” students should get the financial aid they deserve.