Hardworking DACA Student Loses His Scholarship on the First Day of School Due to Immigration Status

Lead Photo: Photo by Eduardo Luján Olivas / GoFundMe
Photo by Eduardo Luján Olivas / GoFundMe
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Like many students on the first day of classes, 23-year-old Eduardo Lujan-Olivas excitedly welcomed a new school year. His journey to higher education had brought him to Arizona State University. After all the hard work the Tucson resident put in the last five years, he didn’t want to be late for his first class. But an hour before he went to his first class, he got an upsetting phone call from ASU’s financial aid office. “While speaking with them on the phone, I could not believe what I was being told,” he said. “The scholarship I had worked so hard for had been revoked and the only reasonable explanation the financial aid office provided me was my immigration status as a DREAMer (i.e. DACA).”

When President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy on June 15, 2012, he protected so many of the undocumented immigrants who had spent so much of their lives in the United States. While it didn’t grant anyone citizenship, it did allow people to work and go to school. However, the way states treat DACA recipients across the United States isn’t uniform. Some states offer in-state tuition and financial aid. Some offer none. But for an entire summer, Lujan-Olivas believed he had a scholarship to ASU – one he worked really hard to earn.

Photo: Pima Community College
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As a high school student, his guidance counselor told him that because of his immigration status, he should forget about college. Instead of letting that deter him, it lit a fire within him. He attended Pima Community College and held down a part-time job to help support himself, his younger sister, and his mother. “There have been many times I wasn’t sure if I’d make ends meet or have food to eat,” he said.

He received DACA four years ago, which coupled with his grades made him eligible for the All-Arizona Academic Team scholarship. Lujan-Olivas met all the requirements, including the citizenship section. Now, he’s looking for answers. After lots of confusing and frustrating conversations with ASU personnel, he knows he only has a few options. He can pay out of pocket, apply to scholarship with long past deadlines, or withdraw from his classes.

Lujan-Olivas could have gone to plenty of other top schools, but he chose ASU because he felt it’d give him the best shot at succeeding. “Now that I no longer have the funds necessary to attend Arizona State University, I fear that I will lose everything I have worked so hard for,” he said.

But as someone who’s fought to get an education, he’s not allowing himself to give up. The proactive student started a GoFundMe account so that he can ease the financial burden. So far, he’s raised more than $20,000, which won’t cover his entire tuition. Though, it’s a start. Donate here and help him get closer to his dream of working in the criminal justice field.

Check out more of his story below: