A college education has never been more expensive than it is now.
The tuition rates at state colleges and universities have seen double-digit increases the past few years. The increase in college costs mean the pool of cash for financial aid does not go as far.
And this week’s state budget projection shows a $1.3 billion (yes, with a B) gap between anticipated tax revenue and anticipated expenses.
Yet, the state House on Wednesday approved 77-20 a proposal that would make young illegal immigrants eligible for state college financial aid.
In theory, if money was no object, offering every qualified kid — whether born in the U.S. or an immigrant, legal or illegal — an opportunity to get a college education would be reasonable.
But clearly money is a huge issue. The plan approved by the House, when calculating the estimated number of illegal immigrants eligible, will require adding about $3.3 million over the next two years to the State Needs Grant program.
But if lawmakers add $3.3 million to the financial aid program, money will be taken from other programs or taxes added. If no more funding is available (a more likely scenario), the pool of applicants will grow for the same number of (or, perhaps, fewer) slots to receive aid. That’s the hard reality of this situation.
It doesn’t feel right cutting off aid to citizens and essentially giving it to illegal immigrants.
An earlier version of the legislation seemed far more appropriate than the version that’s now on its way to the Senate for debate.
That version made eligible only young immigrants who had qualified for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Obama’s program offers two-year renewable permission to stay in the U.S. for young illegal immigrants (under age 31) who arrived in the country before their 16th birthday. Young immigrants allowed to stay under the Obama program are in the U.S. legally, albeit temporarily.
It would be great if every child had access to higher education and the opportunity to pay for it. That’s not the case. The money is not available to serve all.
Lines have to be drawn somewhere in establishing eligibility standards for state financial aid grants. Income level and grade-point average, for example, are used.
Legal status is a reasonable place to draw one of those lines.