Friday, August 10, 2012
Financial Aid of the Illegal Kind
Texas public universities offer many wonderful and challenging opportunities to students these days.
As college student entering my junior year, I've seen a lot of what a public university has to offer. Students can seek out disciplines of study, double major, study abroad, go to sports events and receive financial aid to enjoy all of these things. However, a startling issue regarding financial aid is dividing legislature. Many illegal immigrants are receiving the financial aid for higher education and citizens are questioning its fairness.
In 1996, federal law prohibited in-state tuition for illegal immigrants seeking higher education. Twelve states have passed legislation allowing in-state tuition for immigrants including California, New York, New Mexico and of course Texas. According to FinAid, students in these states must attend high school for three years. More states are considering passing similar legislation including Nevada, which requires legal citizenship status to receive financial aid. Texas law however allows illegal immigrants to receive financial aid. Is this fair?
Texas citizens pay taxes that benefit public universities. Those universities in turn offer and distribute financial aid to students who meet certain eligibility requirements. Such factors could include family income, student merit, research grants, or even oversea studies. The bottom line is that Texas citizens pay taxes for these schools and in turn receive benefits. Illegal immigrants don't pay taxes, yet are still offered other citizens' hard earned money in the form of financial aid. USA Today's report on the issue featured Michelle Bachmann who stated "The American way is not to give taxpayer-subsidized benefits to people who have broken our laws and are here in the United States illegally". As harsh as it sounds, rewarding those who break American laws doesn't sound quite American at all. In the same article, University of Tampa student Boston Ross claimed "It is unfair to give benefits because it essentially rewards those who break the law... I do believe illegal immigrants are hurting the economy: Simply put, they pull from the system without putting anything into it". Of course there are those who oppose this mindset.
University of Tampa professor Dr. Ryan Cragun declares "Scholarships should be need or merit based and everyone should be treated equally". Cragun does bring up a good point; many aspiring students desperately need the aid and could exhibit the merit to boot. It can be further argued that the illegal immigrant parents put their children in a difficult position. Of course a counter point can be made that not everyone should be treated equally if they do not pay equally. Any parent or student receiving financial aid for their studies should seek out citizenship first. Though the process is known to be lengthy, many students can easily obtain it before finishing high school.
I am a strong advocate of requiring citizenship before receiving financial aid. Tuition rates are only rising and many students, myself included, are struggling to make payments. Families who have been paying taxes all their lives should not see that money go to those who don't.