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Applying for college now safer for immigrant students

As parents of teenagers in New Orleans know, applying to colleges can be stressful. Teens must make themselves stand out from the pack to get into their first choice of school. Besides the competition level, the application process can make teens who are undocumented U.S. immigrants feel especially nervous.

That is because college applications have traditionally asked about immigration status. Though American colleges and universities are not trying to get anybody in trouble with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for undocumented people, just being asked about their status can be frightening, even if they are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. That is probably why the administrators behind the Common Application noticed that during the 2019-20 college application cycle, more than 300,000 people who skipped the immigration status question never submitted their application at all. Unfortunately, they may have been scared off by the question. Some may not have been accepted into college last year.

Changing the application

That is why Common Application is changing its form for the fall 2021 semester. Starting then, the application will no longer ask about the applicant’s immigration status. The organization’s application is used by more than 900 colleges and more than 1 million students, so this decision could potentially help thousands of graduating high schoolers feel more comfortable about applying for college.

Potential complications

At the same time, losing this data could make it more difficult for undocumented students to afford a college education. Some colleges and universities offer scholarships and other financial support to immigrant students. If a student is undocumented, they cannot apply for federal student loans or Pell grants, so their options for affording tuition may be limited.

Students of all immigration statuses deserve a quality education

Millions of students come to the U.S. every year to go to college. Millions more students are seeking permanent residency status or citizenship. An experienced immigration attorney’s advice and help are needed to help achieve these goals.