DACA recipients have the merits of any other, let them compete for scholarships


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DACA has been attempted to be phased out since 2017, but efforts to do so have been put on hold.

Now more than ever before, it’s important for scholarships to adopt a policy the Rhodes Scholarship implemented this year: opening the application to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Last month brought the announcement of the 2019 class of Rhodes Scholars who will attend the University of Oxford with financial support. Among the 32 Americans who received the award was Jin Kyu Park, a Harvard student brought to the U.S. from South Korea when he was just 7 years old.

Though many students feel the financial squeeze of the continuously rising costs of a college education, DACA students face additional financial barriers that citizens are not burdened with.

These barriers are on the federal and state level, and are compounded with many scholarship opportunities being exclusive to those with citizenship status.

On the broadest scale, DACA students do not qualify for federal student aid. While this has been a stagnant rule since FAFSA’s conception, state legislatures have stepped in to at least provide in-state tuition rates for undocumented students.

Texas did so in 2001 with the passing of SB 1403. However, this could change in the upcoming legislative session. Last week, Rep. Kyle Biedermann filed HB 413 to reverse the offering of in-state tuition.

This tired practice of denying immigrants a chance for upward mobility is juxtaposed with the myth that immigrants are lazy and economically draining.

Until a path to citizenship is created, we’re left with few options to ensure equality for all students who wish to pursue higher education. This is why more scholarship programs that have previously barred undocumented students from applying should begin welcoming them. These programs don’t have to adhere to a two-thirds majority vote. They were established with the purpose of allowing low-income or otherwise under-privileged–yet talented students–the chance to earn a degree.

Take the College Assistance Migrant Program for example. This scholarship program covers the tuition costs for thousands of students at various colleges, including St. Edward’s. SEU is forced to comply with their restriction of strictly granting the scholarship to U.S. citizens since the funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Education.

Still, plenty of other scholarships are not tied to federal funds. In a period of high resentment and prejudice towards migrants, immigrants and refugees, those at the helm of independent scholarships should follow the lead of the Rhodes Scholarship.

Colleges themselves also need to be more accessible to undocumented students. In the case of the Quest Bridge program, which matches students to a college or university that suits them, the application is open to citizens and non-citizens alike. But there’s a caveat: only some of the participating colleges consider undocumented students for admission and full scholarships.

When affirmative action was created, leaders aimed to help groups of people who had been oppressed attain higher education. Providing scholarships to undocumented students is to college financial aid what affirmative action is to college acceptance. We must level the playing field for all Americans, regardless of immigration status.