“Creating an Undocufriendly Campus: The Role of Campus Support in the Retention of Undocumented Students in Post-Secondary Education” – Courtney Washington

Abstract

Name: Courtney Washington

Department: UIC Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

There are about 11 million undocumented immigrants that currently reside in the United States. For these undocumented immigrants, their legal status in most states prohibits them from working, qualifying for professional licenses, receiving financial aid, and obtaining many forms of identification. These barriers may limit the opportunities they choose to pursue, including the pursuit of higher education. While those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a U.S. immigration policy, receive work permits and the opportunity to attend a college or university, they are not eligible to receive aid from the federal government or most state governments. Typically, students at a college or university fund their education through various means, including state and federal financial aid, part-time jobs particularly through the Federal Work-Study Program and assistance from family members. However, their status limits the amount of aid they are eligible to receive. Some states have begun to allow undocumented students to receive financial assistance, but it isn’t nearly enough to offset the rising costs of higher education. Issues with financing their education can cause undocumented students to experience higher rates of mental health issues. Collectively, these issues can have a profound impact on a student’s ability to finish their degree program. This study will examine the barriers undocumented immigrants face in higher education, particularly the financial and personal limitations of their status. Despite these barriers, universities have the responsibility to create initiatives and resources for undocumented students on their campus. They must tend to their financial, academic, social, and emotional needs so that there is an increase in the retention and graduation rates of this population.

Read more about Courtney's work here