Arizona State University has helped as many as 200 illegal immigrants obtain private scholarships this semester to help pay for higher out-of-state tuition that voters approved in a state referendum, university President Michael Crow said.
Crow said ASU has set up a program to help students who have graduated from state high schools pay the higher tuition required under voter-approved Proposition 300. The aid has gone to 150 to 200 students, and based on his estimate the total money provided is about $1.8 million.
“These are students showing up with Arizona high-school diplomas,” Crow said during a speech at a leadership-awards luncheon Friday put on by the nonprofit Valle del Sol, Inc. in Phoenix. “Some of these students don’t have immigration status. We say, ‘OK, you went to an Arizona high school,’ so . . . we work it out in the financial-aid calculator.”
The program uses private money already in the university’s coffers, Crow said.
The gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition for full-time students at ASU’s Tempe campus is about $12,000.
James Rund, vice president of university undergraduate initiatives, said the undocumented students from Arizona will not take priority over legal out-of-state students, and said the money is awarded base on need.
Proposition 300 requires undocumented immigrants to pay the out-of-state tuition rate at the state’s public universities and colleges. It also bars students from getting financial assistance funded with state money, and requires schools to report twice a year to the state Legislature the number of undocumented immigrants attending their schools.
A recent Joint Legislative Budget Committee report put the number of students denied in-state tuition, financial aid and adult-education classes this year at just under 5,000. ASU and the University of Arizona denied 1,500 student financial aid or in-state financial status and additional 1,790 community-college students were affected.
In an interview after his short speech, Crow said helping undocumented students does not circumvent Proposition 300’s intent.
“The voters have spoken,” he said. “They don’t want their money being used for these students.”
UA and Northern Arizona University don’t have formal initiatives to provide money for undocumented students; however, any student is eligible to apply for private financial aid.
State Treasurer Dean Martin, a Republican who championed Proposition 300, said Crow’s program proves the law is working. He said he was aware of other private efforts to raise money for undocumented students but not Crow’s.
“Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for them, and this is exactly what we were looking for,” Martin said. “I don’t have a problem with them going after private money, just don’t use taxpayer money. That’s all I care about.”
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