Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy implemented by President Obama on June 15, 2012 that aimed to provide benefits to certain undocumented individuals. These benefits include not being considered “illegal” and being able to apply for employment authorization and a social security number. For college bound undocumented students, DACA status can also make an American college education possible.
However, at this time the program currently finds itself in a limbo. Its planned expansion has been suspended. It is up to the US courts to decide the fate of the program. To monitor the state of things I recommend to monitor the official government page. It is through that same link that students can theoretically apply or renew their DACA status. Due to this evolving situation, instead of outlining the process of applying to DACA – I will detail the options that current recipients of DACA have and alternative opportunities for undocumented students in general.
Applying to College as a DACA Recipient
Unfortunately DACA itself is a temporary measure, but it can be helpful for those who managed to obtain DACA status. Certain states allow undocumented students to apply for in-state tuition and there are even a few states that have state financial aid possibilities. They are displayed in the following map:
While this is a benefit for undocumented students, federal aid is reserved for only US citizens and eligible non-citizens. On top of that some private universities do not give undocumented students any financial aid. Moreover many universities keep their policies towards undocumented students off their websites. Students are wary of reaching out to school administration or contacting university officials for fear of their futures and their families. This means that many students find themselves at a loss of how to apply to college. Below I have compiled a list of resources and universities that serve as beacons for DACA and undocumented students:
- Best Colleges
- US News
- Get Me to College
- United We Dream
- Golden Door Scholars
- College Green Light
- The College Matchmaker
Why should this matter to you?
With the suspension of DACA, some of America’s most brilliant mind find themselves in danger of being unable to reach their full potential. This humble list I have put together is just the tip of the iceberg in the help and information available on the internet. Its aim is to act as a starting point for undocumented students who strive for higher education. The thousands of “illegals” in our country serve as the foundation to our society — from farming to housework. They have reared children who now want to pursue the same path of the peers. How many future scientists, poets, teachers, and engineers does America have to lose to xenophobic government policy?
DACA was designed for those children who arrived here as they were learning how to walk — those who only posses vague memories of their homelands. And now even this temporary fix is falling apart. It is the responsibility of all American students to share these resources with their classmates and hope that they reach those who need them.