New York state university officials support financial aid for undocumented students
The SUNY system is the latest to support laws that allow undocumented immigrant students to apply for financial aid.
January 27th, 2012
04:52 PM ET

New York state university officials support financial aid for undocumented students

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) - The trustees of the State University of New York system are the latest to register their support for laws that would allow undocumented immigrant students to apply for financial aid.

The board of trustees’ resolution, passed Wednesday, joins similar gestures of support voiced by the City University of New York, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York State Department of Education and a number of state and federal legislators.

“The current demographic realities of New York State indicate that many of the brightest and hardest working students eligible to enroll at SUNY are of undocumented status, and it is imperative that SUNY remain accessible to these students,” Board Chairman H. Carl McCall said in a press release. “SUNY will work with stakeholders to develop sensible legislation that provides this deserved access and financial support.”

The SUNY resolution does not support any specific legislative proposals, but there are several bills pending that would allow undocumented students to access some of the same programs offered to New York citizens or permanent legal residents.

One, the Education Equity for DREAMers Act, would allow undocumented immigrants who entered the country before turning 18 to be eligible for state- and city-funded financial aid programs, grants, loans and scholarships. Applicants would also be required to be under the age of 35, reside in New York for at least two years, have graduated from a high school with a diploma or equivalent and have no felony convictions.

Proponents of such laws say they are an investment that pays off in future tax revenue generated by students who are better qualified for higher-paying jobs and have a path to citizenship.

Chung-Wha Hong, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said that the proposals are gaining the support of educational institutions who see talented students - regardless of immigration status - as a community asset.

“Especially during the economic downturn, everyone agrees that we have to encourage young people to get the skills they need and to go to college,” Hong said. “Students who worked to graduate from high school, which is not an easy thing when you grow up under the barriers they did... to make education impossible (for them) is just not acceptable.”

Hong said it's unclear exactly how many students would benefit from such legislation because most schools don’t track immigration status.

“But from all indications it’s a manageable number,” Hong said. “We think it may be a few thousand students who benefit from this. It’s going to raise our college readiness and graduation numbers for the whole state, if this works.”

One of those students in Lucy Allain, 19, who came to the United States on a tourist visa with her mother at 10 years old. They overstayed, and Allain grew up in the New York City area. Allain maintains a 4.0 grade point average. She said she feels no connection to her native Peru, and that her future is here in the United States.

Allain is now finishing her first year at Queensborough Community College. Because of her immigration status, she isn’t eligible for state or federal aid programs. She currently finances her studies through a mix of savings, money from her mother and a scholarship given by the New York Immigration Coalition. The passage of the New York state DREAM act would allow her to pursue her dream of transferring to a four-year college and becoming a broadcast journalist.

“I think we deserve to have an opportunity for financial aid and scholarships – that should be equal,” Allain said. “It’s not our fault that we’re undocumented. Having to go through that struggle - it's not like we don’t do anything. When we compete for scholarships, we have to have good grades and show that we’re trying to excel in something that we believe in, something that we can make better in this country.”

But opponents of extending financial aid to illegal immigrants say it encourages further breaches of immigration law and gives undocumented students an advantage that all citizens do not have.

Heritage Foundation analyst Hans von Spakovsky said he believes New York is already violating federal law by offering in-state tuition to undocumented students but not to nonresident students who are legal citizens. He also said that extending financial aid eligibility to the undocumented would penalize other students by forcing them to compete for the same pool of limited aid.

Von Spakovsky said that as the father of a high school senior, “it would make me pretty angry if she did not get financial aid as a United States citizen in favor of someone who is in the U.S. illegally.”

“I don’t think it's fair to taxpayers," von Spakovsky said. "We are a country that is based on the rule of law."

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Filed under: Economy • Education • Immigration • Where we live • Who we are
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. New Parents

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    April 21, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. How to Bankruptcy

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    April 2, 2012 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Nwagu

      In Berlin on September 3, 1939, Joseph Goebbels held a news conference to exaipln why the French and British had just declared war on Germany after its attack on Poland.One reporter asked, Herr Reichminister, are the French and British uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible for going to war agsinst the Fuehrer? Goebbels, who regarded multiple-choice questions as a Jewish invention, had the man sent to Buchenwald for reeducation.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jerry

    i am against college education for illegals.i against passsing the DREAM ACT so illegal aliens can get a college education for who will pay for it but poor tax payers of NY

    January 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. raulwaldon

    Online learning is not the complete solution for everyone, but it can help many of them greatly. You go to education with the tools you've got and one the tool is the online High Speed Universities go research yourself

    January 29, 2012 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lucy's Mom

    WAKE UP NEW YORKERS! This already passed in here in California! Illegal aliens can now apply to and receive TAX PAYER FUNDED financial aid! We tried to repeal this GARBAGE but the liberal mediam WHEN they covered our efforts, portrayed us as "Tea Party volunteers", etc.. Hope the voters of New York can STOP THIS before it's too late, CA taxpayers are on the hook for over $65 million per year and going up annually for this!

    January 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ytuque

    Who speaks for the taxpayers when SUNY officials decide to allocate money for illegal immigrants?

    January 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KBR

    And my U.S. born epileptic and grown up daughter has trouble getting basic medical care out of the governmment. We seem to care far more for illegal immigrants than our own citizens.

    January 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. carolyn

    If New York state tax payers are willing to pay for this ....I say....good for you ....but,don't expect the rest of Americans to chip in.This monkey is on your back.

    January 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. KeninTexas

    The people of New York should think about replacing the board of trustees with people who will represent the citizens of the state instead of trying to advance their own liberal aggenda. It is ridiculour for them to try to offer aid to illegals when their own citizens are struggling to go to college.

    January 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • carolyn

      Yeah,but they claim these are "Really Smart Illegals'! So,they should get tons of free tax payers money that they don't have to pay back.

      January 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. migeli

    1492 was the beginning of the immigration problem.Actually anyone should be thankful there was no law then.None of you would be here.Remember you all came from aliens.Some of them from light years away.

    January 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • wilmer

      You right my amigo they are a bunch of loser ,viva"new york and california. Marcos rubio wish to be presidente soo funny becareful with the miami people folks

      January 28, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ct

    If it's racist to disagree with funding minorities in college.... then it should be racist when taxes goes up on the mostly white payers.

    January 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Teykma Moola

    It really does not matter who you are and what you support so long as the people who pay the bills agree to it. I do think the educational system should teach more of us about the modern serfdom where money has simply replaced crops and those high on the hill who lied to us in order to 'represent us' simply take what they want/need and hand it out to others in order to maintain their power at the expense of others. The idea that trustees support and idea is really of no concern. What matters most is: Do those people who pay taxes to create an educational environment for contributing citizens wish to also support people who may not be recognized citizens and/or have not shown they contribute to the community. That is the group who should be deciding what will be done here...not a small group of people who may or may not represent what those citizens who foot the bill want. Oddly enough, it makes more sense that those who wish to access something they did not contribute to would pay a higher amount for the privelege of attending.

    January 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahsen

      My problem with the trutroe debate is not whether it is or not. That's for the legal brains. My problem is why do we go to the public and reporters for their thoughts on the subject? What would these leftists have us do? Ask politely for intel on terrorist plans? Anything we do to make it uncomfortable for these murderers could be described as trutroe. Any deprivation is potentially cruel but it has suddenly become a very cruel world and some of these fools would be the first finger pointers if we have another 9-11. Water boarding plays on a fear that resides in all of us. The inability to breathe. Don't pompously say the intel gathered is bad because there is no way some reporter would know that.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. migeli

    Deport all illegal aliens retroactive to 1492. Head of immigration.Chief Sendemback!

    January 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe Citizen

    The reason these "higher education" groups favor financial aid to everyone is that it is GUARANTEED MONEY to them. As long as financial aid continues to be fully guaranteed by the government, these schools will get their money. The government has to figure out later where to get the money if the students can't pay back the loan. That means it's coming straight out of the taxpayer's pocket.

    January 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. alicia

    Im totaly against illegals having access to aid. Being a born US CITIZEN and graduating from college in the last 5 yrs, i was not eligable for financial aid because they said i made too much, making 23000 that yr, i wasnt a dependent.. If immigrants want financial aid, give up your citizenship from your homeland, PAY TAXES, speak fluent english, and dont get a degree in usless fields(IE.. liberal arts).. dont expect the taxpayer to pay your way, and STAY IN THE US AFTER YOU GET YOUR DEGREE... Im sick of seeing these "refugees" getting paid to be here, not pay taxes, put a dent in the available jobs(and dont speak a word of english) and then expect the taxpayer to pay for the rest of their familes... But i guess thats what its come down to, support foreiners and forget our own!!! American policies at their greatest..

    January 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Sindarintech

    Oh brother... another illegal alien pity party courtesty of CNN. Financial aid should be given to American citizens NOT illegal aliens. Aliens should be deported. Period.

    January 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Kelly

    The reason supporters of allowing foreign nationals to have access to the same priveleges as American citizens feel this way is that they do not think that American citizenship is of any value. Think about it.. Many of these same people oppose ID cards for voting, support drivers licenses and/or state issued ID cards for illegal immigrants, oppose checking legal status when applying for jobs or welfare benefits, oppose police checking immigration status, etc.... Why? Every country these illegal immigrants come from does all of these things and more, but if done here we are called racist.. They think that American citizenship is nothing, something to be given away easily and if you don't qualify you should get the benefits anyway..

    January 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Whynotmine

    When my son graduated from high school, I was a single parent with 2 other children with an annual income of just about $25,000, no child support or other aid, he worked at a fast food place part time. He did not qualify for any type of assistance, I made too much. He went into the military, no other options for an education, I couldn't afford the tuition, I didn't expect the government to take care of my kids, they had a roof over their head, clothes and food, I did all that without expectations of "the Federal, State or County owes me". But yet illegals come here with their hands out and feel they "deserve" to be catered to while natural citizens are shunned, unbelievable! If they want to be catered to deport then and their families with the requirement to go through normal channels to become a citizen and if approved serve at least 6 years in a branch the military, denounce their native country and abide by American laws, not expect us to conform to their ways, laws and religion, and the only place they can speak their "language" is in their homes and not expect lawful citizens to learn to speak theirs. Illegals are sucking the life out of America!

    January 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  19. USA#1

    Round up every illegal and get them off my roads, out of school, and off federal and state aid. They only weaken our fragile economy.

    January 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dylan

      Rand,I am truly confused by the posts you are pclaing on this site. If Sean Hannity laid a golden goose question like this for a conservative president I hardly believe it would be worth reporting, outside of certain websites. If Chris Mathews laid this question on the president guess what, no news here. Both are clear where they stand politically and they don't hide it.This was a CNN White House reporter. Reporters are supposed to be unbiased . And if you believe after watching that video that there was no bias in that question, you have clearly joined the ranks of not recognizing your bias. By the why, had a Fox reporter laid a question like that on a Republican President my post I placed further down in this thread would have been the same.Let me make a personal recommendation here. If you want to be taken seriously, make posts related to the subject matter and bring facts to discuss. Your sarcasm would go a lot farther if it was surrounded by facts! Stay away from the Wil Burns syndrome.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  20. spyder

    i worked for 30 years, still working. Where is my free student money so i can goto post secondary? maybe i should put on a turban and claim refugee status. Would get more money then i would from pension when i retire. Whatever happened to working for what u want? And dont tell me post secondary is a need. We have to many post doctorates with useless degress. Tell me, what is a degree in lierature or arts really worth?

    January 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  21. milwaukeebroad

    Thankfully, I live in Israel, so I don't have to face the coming border war. I remember the days when the US actually had a spine. Now colleges and universities filled with American students who put themselves thousands of dollars into debt to prepare for careers want to force them to compete with illegal aliens who are undoubtedly applying for student loans using the SSNs of American students. Looks like no one cares about this country anymore.

    January 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  22. arlene

    That sucks! I was a single parent with 2 kids in college and received NO financial aid. Keep the illegal immigrants out of our country. And speak only English instead of learning Spanish and other foreign languages to cater to the illegal aliens.

    January 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  23. HillClimber

    There is only one acceptable course of action: rid the United States of America of persons on our land illegally. It is properly "Deportation Not Education." Go suck the life out of your own country, get out f mine!

    January 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  24. frances

    Jesus jr, you don't get much huh?

    January 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  25. frances

    Whether man or woman , aging isn't for sissies.

    January 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  26. jmarma

    The article starts out by descrbing divorced, widowed,often poor older women living alone and then goes on to tell about well-heeled women having plastic surgeries and dancing with the stars. Let's talk about those of us who fit into that first category who still manage to enjoy life. We do things on the cheap; we walk, use the library, enjoy our neighbors, friends, community events, family members and pets. I am a great grandmother who is taken for 15 years younger; I hold 2 masters degrees, volunteer and love life. Move over Betty White; we are not all celebreties.

    January 27, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Stella


    January 27, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Masashi

      In my opinion hivnag to even listen to a reporter like this CNN guy is torture.I mean seriously did he actually hear his own question?? I think NOT! Reminded me of a Steven Colbert take on a comedy central show where he asks a guest if some thing is A) GREAT ,or B) the GREATEST and those are the only 2 choices well SC is a comedian so we get that..perhaps this reporter should try the comedy central thing instead od trying to be a real reporter.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  28. Darf Vader

    I'm going to stop paying taxes...

    January 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |