By Ruth Conniff
I’m an undocumented student who wants to be in the college classroom.
I’ve lived in Miami for 17 years and am attending Florida International University. But because I’m undocumented, my tuition is supposed to cost $1,239 more per class than a “regular” student.
My mom always stressed how vital an education is. I followed her advice. I graduated from high school with a 3.8 GPA and received a Florida Bright Futures Scholarship.
However, Florida revoked my scholarship because of my undocumented status, and I can’t afford the out-of-state tuition. I am also denied federal financial aid.
Some other students and I applied for a waiver from Florida International. If it doesn’t go through, we will be out of luck.
I’m by no means alone in this predicament. Only 5 percent of the 65,000 graduating undocumented high school seniors in the United States each year can go to college.
Undocumented students should not be charged higher tuition for college.
Our broken immigration system prevents undocumented youth from reaching their potential and categorizes us as second-class citizens.
Some argue in-state tuition should be for only tax-paying citizens, but many don’t realize that undocumented people pay taxes too. According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented families paid an estimated $11.2 billion in taxes last year.
Thirteen states offer in-state tuition for undocumented students, and some colleges, like Florida International, sometimes grant in-state tuition waivers or help find private scholarships.
But most states and most colleges do not. They are wasting the talent of so many young people.
All we want is a chance. We want the same opportunities given to everyone else. We want the chance to better not only ourselves, but America too.
Nicolas Wulff is a 21-year-old undocumented student who has lived in Miami since the age of 5. He wants to major in international relations and economics at Florida International University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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