Most of the billions of dollars of higher education investments in President Biden’s Build Back Better Act will go toward institutions and programs that already receive some sort of federal support. But if the legislation passes as it is currently written, the federal government will invest in a particular group of students that it hasn’t supported before—those who are undocumented.
The current text of Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social spending bill includes a provision that would expand eligibility for federal student aid to students with Temporary Protected Status or who are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that provides protection against deportation to immigrants often known as Dreamers who were brought to the United States without documentation as children. About 427,000 undocumented students are in higher education, but none of them are able to finance their education using federal financial aid, even though most would be eligible based on income.
Many undocumented students work long hours or multiple jobs to pay for college and support their families at the same time. Oftentimes, it isn’t the academics that hinders undocumented students’ success in higher education—it’s the pressure of juggling all their financial responsibilities, said Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.US, an organization that provides financial support to Dreamers who want to attend college.
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