Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Undocumented Immigrant Students Face Hike in College Bill

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Undocumented Immigrant Students Face Hike in College Bill

Article excerpt

Talented Pattonville High School students often file into Julie Kampschroeder's office seeking advice about college. As a college counselor, it's her job to help them.

So, nothing breaks her heart more than telling an undocumented immigrant student with an ACT score of 31 and dreams of a science, technology, engineering or math career that college is going to be an uphill financial battle.

Those challenges could become more burdensome if an amendment added to Missouri's upcoming budget remains.

Undocumented students already cannot receive state or federal financial aid. But the amendment, added by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R- Shell Knob, would go further, barring public colleges and universities from offering in-state tuition to "unlawfully present" students.

Fitzpatrick hopes to avoid giving undocumented residents an unfair financial advantage.

"As an employer, I can get in trouble for hiring someone who is here unlawfully," Fitzpatrick said. "Yet, at a university, I can give them better tuition than somebody who lives five minutes from me on the other side of the state line."

If this amendment remains in the budget, Missouri would be bucking the U.S. trend when it comes to educating these students.

Across the nation, at least 16 states, including Illinois, Kansas and Nebraska, allow certain undocumented individuals to receive in- state tuition, according to the National Immigration Law Center.

"The national conversation is all about recognizing young people who grew up in this country knowing no other home ... (and) who are committed to staying here," said Tanya Broder, an attorney with the Center.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis took a step in that direction by allowing students to receive in-state tuition if they graduated from a Missouri high school. About six undocumented students are enrolled, UMSL spokesman Bob Samples said. However, the institution will follow any state law passed on the issue, Samples added.

St. Louis Community College also appeared to be making similar moves when it announced undocumented students would pay tuition based on where they lived. …

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