Pathways to Nowhere for Georgia’s Undocumented

Georgia students without papers must pay out-of-state tuition and are barred from attending some of the state’s top colleges.

The tower on the Georgia Tech campus. Photo by Hector Alejandro via Flickr
National Journal
Sophie Quinton
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sophie Quinton
Dec. 17, 2013, midnight

Some stu­dents who gradu­ate from Dalton High School are for­bid­den, un­der state law, from at­tend­ing Geor­gia’s five most se­lect­ive uni­versit­ies. They must pay out-of-state tu­ition at all state col­leges. On top of that, they’re in­eligible for state and fed­er­al fin­an­cial aid and fed­er­al stu­dent loans. These young people may also find it hard to pay their way through col­lege: They’re for­bid­den from get­ting a driver’s li­cense, ob­tain­ing a work per­mit, or start­ing their own busi­ness.

Un­doc­u­mented stu­dents may make up about 8 per­cent of Dalton High’s stu­dent body, former Prin­cip­al Debbie Free­man es­tim­ates. No mat­ter how well the school tries to pre­pare all stu­dents for the fu­ture, some gradu­ates find they have few op­tions after 12th grade.

“We do have stu­dents who leave us that are un­doc­u­mented, who are highly qual­i­fied to enter four-year uni­versit­ies. Some of them have been our very best stu­dents,” Prin­cip­al Steve Bar­too says. Many of those stu­dents can’t af­ford a four-year school without fin­an­cial aid. They end up work­ing part time to scrape to­geth­er money for a com­munity-col­lege de­gree in­stead.

Many young people in Geor­gia face the same bar­ri­ers. As of Au­gust, 17,964 Geor­gia res­id­ents had ap­plied for De­ferred Ac­tion, the fed­er­al pro­gram that al­lows some people brought to the U.S. as chil­dren to ob­tain tem­por­ary work per­mits. The state ranks eighth in the num­ber of such ap­plic­a­tions.

While ap­prov­al for De­ferred Ac­tion makes it easi­er for stu­dents to find work (and get a state driver’s li­cense), it doesn’t make col­lege any more af­ford­able. Cur­rently, some De­ferred Ac­tion re­cip­i­ents are su­ing the Geor­gia Board of Re­gents, ask­ing that they be al­lowed to pay in-state tu­ition. Some pro­fess­ors at the Uni­versity of Geor­gia are vol­un­tar­ily hold­ing classes for un­doc­u­mented stu­dents.

There isn’t much high schools can do, oth­er than ad­vise un­doc­u­mented stu­dents to ap­ply to private col­leges that of­fer fin­an­cial aid, or to head out of state for school. “We also know what states would al­low them to go to col­lege, and we tell them, ‘It would be wise of you to think about how can you move here, and es­tab­lish res­id­ency and then go to school, and then come back to Dalton,’ ” Free­man says. Six­teen states cur­rently al­low un­doc­u­mented stu­dents to pay in-state tu­ition, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al Con­fer­ence of State Le­gis­latures.

The Geor­gia Board of Re­gents banned un­doc­u­mented stu­dents from the state’s most se­lect­ive in­sti­tu­tions to free space for leg­al res­id­ents. In truth, the ban didn’t open that much space: In 2010, just 27 un­doc­u­mented stu­dents were en­rolled in the top five state uni­versit­ies. Less than 0.2 per­cent of stu­dents in all state high­er-edu­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions were un­doc­u­mented at that time.

Few un­doc­u­mented stu­dents cur­rently de­cide to pur­sue high­er edu­ca­tion in Geor­gia. It’s worth ask­ing what it would mean for Geor­gia’s eco­nomy if un­doc­u­mented res­id­ents — per­haps 7 per­cent of the state work­force, ac­cord­ing to the Pew His­pan­ic Cen­ter — found it easi­er to fur­ther their edu­ca­tion there. Geor­gia wants to get every child on the path to a ca­reer, but some stu­dents find their paths blocked.

What We're Following See More »
PLENTY OF MISTAKES IN COVERT TESTS
Report: U.S. Ill-Equipped to Detect Dirty Bomb
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

A DHS report "found gaping holes in domestic nuclear detection and defense capabilities and massive failures during covert testing." A team put in place to assess our readiness capabilities found significant issues in detecting dangerous radioactive and nuclear materials, failing to do so in 30 percent of covert tests conducted over the course of the year. In far too many cases, the person operating the detection device had no idea how to use it. And when the operator did get a hit, he or she relayed sensitive information over unsecured open radio channels."

Source:
WON’T INTERFERE IN STRUCTURING NSC OFFICE
White House to Give McMaster Carte Blanche
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
RESTROOM ISSUES RETURN
Trump To Rescind Trans Protections
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump is planning to reverse an Obama-era order requiring that schools allow students to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Trump "has green-lighted the plan for the Justice Department and Education Department to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools rescinding the guidance." A case is going before the Supreme Court on March 28 in which Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his high school for forbidding him to use the men's room.

Source:
NAIVE, RISK TAKER
Russia Compiling Dossier on Trump’s Mind
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."

Source:
“HORRIBLE” AND “PAINFUL”
Trump Addresses Threats On Jewish Community Centers
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login