Some WSU students may see a surprising change in the way their financial aid is distributed in the near future.
Lawmakers in Olympia are trying to pass a bill that will allow illegal immigrant students to apply for state financial aid.
This motion is not only fiscally feasible, it is completely necessary as both a motivator for achievement among illegal immigrant students and as an investment in Washington’s economy.
Ricardo Sanchez, chairman of the Latino/a Educational Achievement Project, said the inclusion of illegal immigrant youth in the financial aid pot is a logical next step.
"Now these kids can live and work here without fear of deportation," he said. "The financial aid makes more sense."
The state estimates offering financial aid to illegal immigrant students would cost around $7 million. However, there’s no accurate way of calculating how many illegal immigrants would take advantage of this opportunity.
Taken from a statewide budget, $7 million is a drop in the ocean, especially when one considers all the benefits that could result from broadening eligibility requirements.
First and foremost, the opportunity to go to college completely transforms how young illegal immigrants might perceive their own future.
Students with taxpaying families and strong grades should be given fair compensation for their hard work, regardless of background. Those who came to the U.S. as small children have no control over their relocation, but they hold full responsibility for their own performance in school.
Citizens born in the U.S. are granted certain opportunities not afforded to illegal immigrants and we overlook the coincidental nature of our birthplace.
It is unreasonable for the state to base its judgment on who deserves financial aid by grouping applicants into categories of legal or illegal. This would be akin to offering financial aid only to students who wear a shoe size between eight and ten, left-handed women, Asian-Irish Capricorns who need glasses, or any other characteristic one cannot control about themselves.
This also means illegal immigrants should not be shown any preference when it comes to state-funded scholarships.
External circumstances, like one’s original nationality, must not affect how the state awards financial aid. Instead, the accomplishments students achieve in high school should speak volumes about the contributions they will make to society in the future.
Additionally, offering financial aid eligibility to illegal immigrants may actually save the state money in the long run. According to a study from the University of Wisconsin, immigrants with a college degree have the tools to earn a stable career and economic independence, reducing the need for government-funded welfare.
Therefore, instead of throwing money at the symptoms of socioeconomic inequalities, offering higher education at a more obtainable price helps cure the problem at the source.
Illegal immigrant students who come to the country as children are being treated as second-class human beings and punished for the actions of their parents. Those who work as hard as their classmates deserve the same opportunities: no more, no less.