In life, I'm building an international non-profit, running the Ironman triathlon, and training guide dogs for the blind.
Here, I blog about social entrepreneurship, living a passionate life, and creating something meaningful.
Disclaimer: Any opinions and views expressed here are my personal views and my views only. They should not be construed in any way as support or opposition by my non-profit to any political activity.
For a little over seven years, illegal immigrant students in California have been eligible for in-state tuition at the top-ranked public California universities and college. A couple weeks ago, appeals courts ruled that this violated federal law that bars illegal immigrants from receiving any benefit meant only for residents of a specific state.
It’s a big deal, I can say from personal experience.
Having attended UC Berkeley as a California resident, I paid something like $5000 in annual tuition. Friends from out-of-state paid this $5000 plus another $15-odd thousand in out-of-state fees. Looking at the fees for the current school year, resident students are paying $9,000 per year while non-residents are $30,000 — excluding books, food, and rent. And, let’s just say that rent isn’t cheap in Berkeley — with roommates, you’re paying $1000+. These days, if you’re out-of-state, you’re probably paying upwards of $45,000 a year to attend Berkeley.
But, honestly, a lot of people get financial aid — either grants, loans, work-study or some combination thereof. More than two-thirds of students received financial aid at the University of California during the 2008-09 school year. I don’t know the breakdown for out-of-state students specifically, but, my experience is that the University of California is very understanding and generous.
If you’re undocumented, however, you aren’t eligible for financial aid. FAFSA? Don’t even think about it.
So, where are you going to get $45,000 to pay for tuition? From your rich parents? If you’re undocumented, that’s not exactly likely. By working? Let’s say as a college student, you can earn $10 an hour. Working 50 weeks a year, you’d have to work 90 hours a week every week to make $45,000. School? What school? Oh right, the school you’re working 90 hours a week to pay for but don’t have hours in the week to attend.
The Los Angeles Times has something to say about all this. In an editorial published the last week of September:
By law, states must provide K-12 education to illegal immigrants, and it’s counterproductive to then erect roadblocks to further advancement for our best and brightest. Studies show that investing in education for immigrants pays off. Assuming they remain in California, their economic contributions more than make up for the cost of subsidized college tuition within a few years. Forcing them to wallow in permanent poverty, by contrast, is a drain on taxpayers — as well as being flat-out immoral.
I’m not going to comment on the very emotional, very complex issue of illegal immigration. It’s a complicated question, and it’s not the point of this blog. If you’re arguing this from a higher principle of immigration control, misaligned incentives or a misinterpreted statute, you can debate that at an immigration blog.
I can see the indignation of students who are from out-of-state, paying higher fees than students who aren’t even in the country legally. I really can. I just think the human problem of effectively locking out thousands and thousands of qualified, motivated students — condemning them to a “permanent underclass,” in the words of the Los Angeles Times — is bigger. It’s such a terrible waste of human potential.
Indignation vs. permanent underclass? Permanent underclass, I think.
I wonder if someone can come up with an idea to work around this? There’s still 13 more days.
Kiva, the first (and now incredibly impactful) microfinance person-to-person lending site, and a huge inspiration and a wonderful mentor to the things we’ve been doing, has been selected as one of the top 25 nonprofits in the American Express Members Project. The top 5 will share a $2.5 million dollar prize to grow and expand their operations. You get to vote who makes it into the top 5. The deadline is September 30 — just 4 more days.
Kiva is an internet based platform that allows everyday people to become “social investors.” Imagine — with $25, a credit card, and an internet connection, anybody in the world can invest in the life of a deserving entrepreneur. The site allows for lenders to sort pre-screened businesses by region, culture, or business category, and see a photo / profile of the person they are supporting. With $1.5M, we hope to expand our selection of businesses to fund.