Financial Aid: Help for All

When the word ‘college’ is brought up into a conversation the first thing any student thinks about is the cost and if they can afford it. No one should be denied the opportunity to go to college because they can’t afford it; which is why the system of financial aid was started. The definition of financial aid is “the money to support a worthy person or cause. ( ” Yet, nowhere does it say what ethnicity or legal status they have to be at. On Saturday October 8, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown thought the same thing as he signed an act stating that even illegal immigrants should have the right to financial aid (McAllister). If someone lives in the United States of America, illegal or not, grew up and went to high school here, they should have the right and opportunity to further their education in college.

This act, deemed the “Dream Act”, has become a giant controversy, especially because most students who hear about it think that it gives financial aid money to people just because they are illegal immigrants. These students may feel this financial aid money is theirs. In actuality if illegal immigrants want financial aid they have to go through a lot more scrutiny than U.S citizens when applying. Illegal immigrants must have entered the United States at the age of fifteen or younger, must have been present in the United States five consecutive years prior to the enactment of the bill, must have graduated from a United States high school, have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education. They also must be between the ages of twelve and thirty-five at the time of application and have good moral character (Abaddon).

“The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us (Lucas).” Just because these students do not have the specific piece of paper that makes them a “legal United States citizen” does not mean that they are not at heart. They can help improve our economy and could also be an asset to our entire community; more educated people equals better jobs and opportunity. Why hold back their potential because of where they were born or even worse where their parents were born? More than a dozen states allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, based on attendance and graduation from a state high school. Yet, only two other states besides California, Texas and New Mexico, allow financial aid for illegal immigrants (Lucas).

Even though financial aid helps a lot of students, young and old, attend college, not everyone uses it for the right reasons. Financial aid needs to be more closely watched and regulated and hopefully the Dream Act will spark more attention to the use of financial aid and help show where all this money is really ending up. Financial aid is given out now in credit card form which is more convenient, but gives a lot more unnecessary leeway to students to be tempted to buy recreational and unnecessary items with it. This act should help bring not just more opportunity for students that not only deserve a chance, but could one day be a great asset to our community, but hopefully can help regulate the giving and receiving of financial aid to truly deserving applicants.

Even though the financial aid system is not perfect, it still helps a lot of eager students with the major financial burden that receiving a college education can bring. The Dream Act doesn’t give all illegal immigrants financial aid; like most students would like to believe and argue. It gives them the opportunity to further their education just like any person should have the ability to do, while hopefully regulating our current financial aid receivers. Financial aid shouldn’t be restricted from anyone, its meant to “support a worthy person or cause (” and the “Dream Act” can help that become a reality.

Click here for an explanation of the Shasta College student essay project.

My name is Arin Okada and I am a Nursing Major at Shasta College in Redding, Ca. I currently receive absolutely no financial aid, and have to pay for everything to go to school.

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