APPLYING TO COLLEGE AS A BLACK UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: 3 Challenges & 3 Solutions

photo courtesy of  can2-prod.s3.amazonaws.com   As many of you know, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been repealed by #45 and although there can’t be any new applicants, there are still a hand full of young adults protected by this status. The purpose of DACA is to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to America as children from deportation. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants: 1) protection from deportation, and 2) a work permit.This protection allows for them to apply to college, a step that was once impossible for undocumented immigrants. Now, here are the biggest challenges I faced when applying to college as an undocumented black immigrant and their subsequent solutions. High school was almost over. My application process to universities in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and beyond was almost enjoyable because of how confident I was in my strong performance throughout high school. But little did I know how difficult my process would truly be. Challenge #1: Knowing Your Status  Being in America for the majority of my life made me unaware of my lack of citizenship, so when applying to college, there was a huge wall that I had to climb. Being prepared for the challenges of  undocumentation can save you from applying to schools that are not DACA friendly.  Once you determine your status, you can effectively plan beforehand and figure out what you must do to succeed. Being an undocumented immigrant, a Black one at that, comes with a particular set of difficulties that are so often well-masked. Most immigrants are typically in the midst of so much opportunity that they naturally excel academically due to their personal hunger for success coupled with the need to show their parents that their sacrifices were worth it. At this point, everything for me was planned out, except for the most important thing when it comes to college applications: money. Challenge #2: Money Please work your absolute hardest in high school. DACA recipients cannot receive funding from the government so make sure you apply for scholarships specifically for DACA recipients, grants, and private loans. Many universities allow for DACA recipients to pay in state tuition. Ask your guidance counselor and financial aid office for help. Do not be ashamed of your status when asking for help, instead use this as an opportunity to advocate for yourself.  Personally, I used private loans to fund my education but I would recommend this as a last resort due to high interest rates post-grad. I was able to enjoy college. I decided to major in African-American Studies after I took an elective on grassroots movements that filled me with passion. I took a leadership role in the African Students Association and danced with the Students of Caribbean Ancestry at the annual Spring Fest. I added Psychology to my studies and became a double major. My first year, I made the Dean’s List and was invited into the Commonwealth Honors College. I experienced college life freely, not worried about how my parents were going to be able to fund my education. Challenge #3: Make Four-Year Plan  Now that you’re in college choose your major wisely. Pick a major that you know will establish a career once you graduate. This goes for the creative students as well. Whether it is engineering, biology, or dance, know exactly what you will do with your 4 years in college. This is important especially for DACA recipients and their unique financial challenges. In other words, do not go to a 4 year university, rack up debt and graduate with no skills to pay it off. Below is a list of links catered to financial help for DACA recipients; including scholarship information & knowing whether your state allows in state tuition. Please stay informed and take advantage! https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/financial-aid-and-undocumented-students.pdffiles/financial-aid-and-undocumented-students.pdf http://www.onlinecolleges.net/for-students/undocumented-student-college-guide/ https://mydocumentedlife.org/2015/11/16/private-colleges-that-accept-undocumented-students-as-domestic-students/ https://citizenpath.com/college-education-dreamers/ https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-type/scholarships-for-undocumented-students/]]>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *