Virginia expands in-state education aid to undocumented students

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Image via Wavy

Madelyn Bobko, Staff Writer

In light of Virginia’s recent streak of rapidly passing progressive policy, as of the latter half of 2022, undocumented immigrants (whether they are protected under DACA or not) will be eligible  for in-state financial aid when applying to universities. The Senate bill 1387 will expand access to higher education for many.

 

To be eligible for financial security under the bill sponsored by Sen. Jen Boysko (D-Fairfax), one must have completed two years of high school in Virginia, graduated at that same school and have submitted a financial aid request through FAFSA.

 

A former GMU student and immigrant, Francesco Yepez, told WSLS local news that immigrants seeking higher education “won’t have as many obstacles as I did.” A sophomore at the University of Virginia and president of UndocUVA, Abraham Castillo, told a State Senate subcommittee, “As a UVA student, I’ve been given access to outstanding educational opportunities. However, I know many of my undocumented peers and peers with DACA are struggling to afford the same resources.” 

 

Immigrants contribute to the overall culture and economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to the American Immigration Council, only 44% have had the means to complete a four year college or university. In addition to this, upwards of 10,000 DACA recipients call Virginia home, and many plan to further their learning by enrolling in an institution for higher education.

 

The only step remaining for Senate Bill 1387 is for Governor Ralph Northam to sign it into law, which is expected to occur in the coming weeks. The step towards equity for all legislation will also grant undocumented residents eligibility for the VA Tuition Assistance Grant. The scholarship is worth $4,000 towards each year of college. Delegates are enthusiastic that the bill will keep Virginian talent in-state and boost the Commonwealth’s economy. 

 

This bill is monumental, especially when considering the Commonwealth’s history with immigration. With the passing of this policy, education will not be a luxury for the advantaged, but will be attainable for those who seek it out.