In March, the New York State Senate dealt an unexpected blow to immigration advocates when it rejected legislation that would have granted state tuition aid to undocumented immigrants. But with President Obama poised to expand his Dreamers program at any moment to a plan that would protect an estimated 5 million people from deportation and provide many of them with legal work permits — changes that would impact legal status but not necessarily a path to higher education — universities are beginning to take aid policies into their own hands.
On Sunday, NYU’s Office of Financial Aid announced a pilot program that will allow certain undocumented immigrants to apply for financial aid on par with what U.S. students are offered. In an email to Washington Square News, NYU’s student newspaper, spokesman John Beckman said “We believe NYU offers a great education, and we hope this will make it a bit easier for undocumented young men and women from New York to attend NYU. We’re sympathetic to their circumstances and the difficulties they face.”
Beckman also said that this policy change was enacted largely thanks to the lobbying efforts of a student advocacy group called the Dream Team, who in fact authored the policy change and presented it to administrators as a challenge to improve opportunities for undocumented students.
Currently, the program is still in a pilot phase and therefore will only apply to students graduating from New York State high schools who are applying for the 2015-2016 academic year.