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Illinois may offer scholarships to unauthorized immigrants

(AP Photo/David Mercer, File)

(AP Photo/David Mercer, File)

As many young Americans are having trouble paying for college, the answer from some states has been to also aid those who aren’t even in the country legally.

An Illinois House bill, which has already passed the Senate, will allow unauthorized immigrant students to receive financial aid, according to The State Journal-Register. 

An estimate 1,500 student would be effected by the legislation. “No additional state money would be required because the immigrant students would be competing for the same aid as everyone else,” The State Journal-Register mentioned.

“The Student ACCESS Bill is revenue neutral!” claims Student Access Bill, which is in support. With added emphasis, the group notes:

The legislation does not have a fiscal impact because it does not require the state to appropriate additional resources for higher education or increase spending for state-funded scholarship programs. The bill simply provides 4-year public universities the legal authority to offer financial aid to undocumented students. The legislation does not create an entitlement, a new state scholarship program or provide undocumented students with a competitive advantage when applying for financial aid.

The organization’s home page also claims the bill will “only allow equal education opportunities for all.”

Critics of the bill still take issue with how unauthorized immigrant students could be taking away scholarship opportunities from citizens. “My concern was that if you voted for it you would have several hundreds of people who were not citizens getting scholarships, but if you do that you would have hundreds of citizens who are not getting those scholarships,” noted Republican Sen. David Luechtefeld. He admitted “it’s a tough call.”

Thus, a possible concern is that by even qualifying at all, unauthorized immigrant students are at “a competitive advantage when applying for financial aid.”

Qualifying students would have to have graduated from an Illinois high school and sign an affidavit that they are pursuing or will pursue legal status in the country. Tom Hardy, spokesman of the University of Illinois system, came out in support of the bill, noting “we shouldn’t leave any groups behind” when speaking about how “colleges and universities are geared to educate our young adults and help them transform their lives.”

Illinois is one of eighteen states which allow unauthorized immigrant students to pay in-state tuition. If the bill passes, the state would join California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington in giving state financial aid to unauthorized immigrant students. Some universities have even been actively recruiting those here illegally.

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