Letter to the Editor: Students should support Illinois Access Bill

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Tribune News Service

A visit to Springfield, Illinois, is not complete without a stop by the white-domed State Capitol Building.

By Luis David Cabrales-Vasquez

The purpose behind this letter is to raise awareness for the Illinois Access Bill SB2196 for Higher Education in State Student Aid. The bill is being voted on Wednesday.

Although the post-election political climate may cause some polemical anxiety, the need to address the significance of this legislature amongst the undocumented community persists.

On a yearly basis, 65,000 undocumented students graduate in the U. S. In Illinois, it is projected that 25,000 undocumented students will become eligible for the pursuit of higher education within the next five years. Currently, federal law provides the state with the discretion to determine financial aid eligibility for undocumented students.

The Access Bill is revenue neutral because it provides four-year universities with the ability to include undocumented students into the financial aid that is already being provided to documented students, excluding federal financial aid. The Access Bill doesn’t only affect the undocumented population that are pursuing higher education. It affects the Illinois economy as well.

As the U.S. Department of Education states, “Increased numbers of students accessing a college education and earning their degrees and credentials locally can strengthen a community’s workforce and increase the demand for local goods and services, as well as investments in local infrastructure.”

As we look to invest in our state and our communities, it is vital that the undocumented population does not get overlooked. Empowering students is taking a proactive approach in planning for our community’s future.

I urge you to contact your local state representative to gain support for the Access Bill.

Luis David Cabrales-Vasquez is a masters student studying social work.

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