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Students Push For State Financial Aid For Immigrants

Gabrielle Bolden

Some college students are pushing Florida lawmakers to allow immigrant students access to state financial aid. 

The Florida Latinx Hispanic Union wants state legislators to support two bills, which would give state financial aid to students who have been granted deferred action for childhood arrivals and temporary protected status.

Currently, DACA and TPS students are unable to receive both federal and state financial aid.

Co-sponsor of the bill, Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell, says post-secondary schooling is too expensive and her bill will allow more opportunities.

“The bill would provide DACA and TPS recipients the opportunity to be classified as Florida residents for the purpose of receiving financial aid awards based upon their merit. Specifically, it will help expand the Florida bright futures scholarship to qualifying well-deserving dreamers across the state in order to help them bare some of the costs and attending college,” said Driskell.

In 2014 a measure allowing undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition was passed. The Florida Immigration Coalition’s Thomas Kennedy, says more can be done.

“When we give these students and other students across the state the ability to become the best they can be to pursue their dreams, to pursue their immigrate dreams, the American dream we all benefit from it,” said Kennedy.

Even though Florida allows in-state tuition, immigrant students are unable to claim Florida Bright Futures.

Florida Latinx Hispanic Union Vice President Mariana Castro says that limits how far students can go with their education.

“Sometimes we take less classes or have to pull out crazy private loans. If I ever need money, I can’t even go to the bank and get a loan because as DACA recipients we aren’t able to do so,” said Castro.

Driskell says the financial aid money is not dependent on the federal government.

“We actually have the authority over our state and how we are going to spend our state dollars. So, if the legislature determines that this was a priority we actually have the authority to do that,” Driskell said.  

So far, none of those proposals have received a hearing.

Gabrielle Bolden is a fourth year broadcast journalism major attending Florida A&M University from Jacksonville, FL. Bolden is an aspiring multimedia producer. She previously served as a producer for News 20 at Five airing to at least 80,000 households, creating engaging content weekly. She pitched and wrote articles as a staff reporter for The FAMUAN Newspaper. She also produced the 2018 Election Night Special for News 20 at Five, covering state and local election races. Bolden interned for WCTV-Eyewitness News (CBS) producing a multimedia project covering the devastating wildfires in Eastpoint, Florida.