Undocumented students closer to receiving financial aid

By Claire Hettinger, News editor

The 1,500 undocumented students in Illinois are one step closer to receiving financial aid from the University after the Illinois General Assembly Higher Education Committee voted Tuesday to present a bill on the senate floor.

The committee passed the bill, with seven democrats approving and three republicans opposing.

The Student Access to College and Career – Education for Statewide Success, or ACCESS, bill requires that undocumented students be allowed to apply for state financial aid.

Legislation passed in 2003 allows undocumented students to receive in-state tuition rates. Illinois is one of 18 states with such provisions; however, undocumented students are still not eligible for monetary compensation, University scholarships, Pell grants and other aid from the state.

ACCESS bill proponents hope the legislation will increase the rate at which undocumented students attend and graduate from universities. Currently, only 5 to 10 percent of undocumented students make it to college at all.

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The ACCESS bill’s progress through the legislature has been slowed by the state budget impasse even though the bill does not involve monetary decisions.

It does not include an increase in state-provided financial aid, nor does it require undocumented students receive financial aid from schools. The bill simply makes it legal for undocumented students to compete for the same benefits that other students receive.

All the ACCESS bill essentially means is that 1,500 more students at public four-year universities across the state would compete for the same funding.

This bill only applies to public four year universities, so it does not affect undocumented students at community colleges or private institutions.

Undocumented students will not be eligible for Monetary Award Program, MAP, grants.

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