Immigrant students without legal status say they're optimistic legislation making them eligible for institutional financial aid will pass the Connecticut General Assembly. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a 30-5 vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where it has not been called for a vote in previous years. This year's version includes some new requirements for applicants.
Some students from Danbury High School used part of their spring break this week to lobby state lawmakers for a bill which would equalize access to higher education institutional college aid for undocumented students in Connecticut. Institutional aid is funded by tuition revenue, and despite paying into the system, undocumented students are currently barred from accessing that aid.
More than 250 people submitted testimony in support of the bill during a public hearing last month.
Evelin Garcia tried to obtain legalization through her U-S citizen grandfather, but she encountered issues and became undocumented. Garcia graduated from WCSU in 2017, a recipient of the CSU Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award. The recognition is presented to the top 12 students in the state. But she says it wasn't easy, because she didn't have access to institutional financial aid.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis concluded that the proposal would have no fiscal impact on the state or on the higher education system.
The bill is supported by WestConn President John Clark. Connecticut allows the students to pay in-state tuition as long as they have spent at least two years at a Connecticut high school. But they can’t apply for any government money, including the institutional aid.
Opponents have argued that allowing the students to access financial aid would mean less money for those in the country legally.