Editors note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Luc Cohen.
Undocumented high school students have a new tool to help them with their college admissions process.
The College Board has released a guide to help undocumented students apply to college and get scholarships — since undocumented students cannot receive state or federal financial aid or get students loans.
But the current version of the guide is a limited resource for Florida immigrant students.
The guide, called the ‘Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students,” primarily tells students how to access in-state tuition rates in 11 of the 14 states that allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition fees for public schools.
But Florida is not one of those states. Out-of-state tuition usually is much higher — three times as much as in-state tuition at many Florida schools.
The Sunshine state requires undocumented Florida residents to pay out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
College Board vice president James Montoya said the organization hopes to build upon this initial version in the future.
“We recognize that this repository is a first step in developing a resource that will serve students,” Montoya said. “It will better indeed serve students within those states that are represented currently in the repository.”
For Florida residents and states with similar laws, the guide provides a list of scholarships available to help undocumented students finance the higher cost of their education.
Montoya said the College Board is looking to find more community organizations that are willing to help support undocumented students.
“Our hope is that we will learn more about scholarships in states not focused upon currently,” Montoya said.
Florida is the most populous state that does not allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
In February, the Florida Senate committee on Higher Education defeated a bill that would allow Florida-born children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
At Miami-Dade College, undocumented students and Florida-born children of undocumented parents have to pay $6,246 per term, while the in-state tuition price is $1,400.
For the 11 states included in the guide, the College Board provides links to pieces of legislation, government agencies, and school-specific programs that assist undocumented students.
Although there is not a specific section providing Florida high school students with information, Miami Senior High School junior Jose Machado—an undocumented immigrant from Nicaragua who hopes to attend University of Miami or Harvard—says he is glad College Board published the guide.
“This is a huge step for College Board,” he said. “I’m glad they did that and it’s going to help a lot of kids who don’t know what to do.”