DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News

Are There Any Efforts to Bring Higher Education to DACA in Arizona?

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

After a litigation that lasted for years, the case called “The State to Arizona versus Maricopa County Community College District Board (MCCCD), Arizona’s Supreme Court delivered a hard punch to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students when the court decided unanimously on April 9th, 2018 to deny them in-state-tuition.

Paying out of state tuition puts post-secondary education out of their reach.

There are approximately 28,000 beneficiaries DACA in the state, and few thousands attending public colleges and universities but the ripple effect on underprivileged communities is greater.  Education has a multiplying effect that, if nixed, unaccounted collateral damage will follow.

Out-of-state tuition

Students face an uneven-patchwork educational landscape.

To support DACA-DREAMers, Arizona State University (ASU) instituted a middle of the road compromise and created an non-resident tuition that charges 150% ($14,751) of in-state-tuition ($9,834), to avoid the almost 3 times over tuition for international students of $27,618. To able to qualify to this tuition, the students need have attended high school in Arizona for a minimum of three years while physically present in the state and graduated from an Arizona high school (or attained the equivalent while physically present), or that the student is lawfully present in Arizona. This description fits most of DACA-DREAMers in Arizona.

University in Arizona (U of A)so far just offers in-state-tuition for those qualifying citizen and legal residents ($11,877) and an out of state tuition of 35,307 for DACA beneficiaries.

The above-described costs are just tuition, and other expenses must be contemplated.

The majority of DACA recipients on the public, higher education institutions are in community colleges. In Maricopa County Community Colleges, a system of 10 colleges and one of the largest in the nation, in-state students currently pay $86 per credit hour this year. Non-resident students pay $241 per credit hour, a really high cost for DACA recipients and their families.

Waiting for a statement

To the date of this publication, institutions are still pondering next steps to facilitate some kind of access but their actions seem also restrained. Officials are waiting on the May 14th, 2018, Arizona Supreme Court’s full statement on their April the 9th decision. This will clear out some doubts.

Scholarship funds before DACA

Advocates are contacting officials at community colleges and universities and contemplating the possibility of raising private scholarships such as previously done by a partnership between ASU and Chicanos por la Causa, when DACA didn’t exist when voters passed in 2007 Prop. 300. The DREAM Scholarship Fund, as it was known, only helped to graduate students already present in the system and did not accepted new enrollments, until the Arizona Board of Regents voted to offer in-state-tuition at ASU, pending litigation.

Prop. 300 was voted by Arizona citizens to deny in-state tuition to undocumented students in 2007 and it is believed to be one of the arguments the Arizona Supreme Court used to deny in-state-tuition to DACA recipients.

Options available now

After the passage of Prop. 300, many DREAMers (later DACA beneficiaries) shifted their attention from public universities to Grand Canyon University, which is not cheap but offers generous scholarship packages. This university still remains an option for those especially living in the Phoenix metro area.

Community colleges still are the cheapest option, especially if students consider taking few classes at a time.  It can be done. Many DACA-DREAMers have finished AA degrees or going forward for more education, attending community colleges as a great launching pad.

Mesa Community college is offering a work-development program called Apple iOS App Development to help students acquire skills to create apps for Apple in short time so they can join the workforce at entry-level programming jobs with a curriculum that takes about 180 hours to complete.

The classes are two eight-week hybrid sections of Object Oriented Programming Fundamentals-Introduction to App Development using Swift/Xcode. 

Students may register for either the first session or second session of CIS150AB, section numbers 38232 or 38233.

You can even get the classes for free at the Apple app store!

The University of Arizona offers a Coding Boot Camp where students can learn highly desirable programming skills in 12 or 24 weeks and low investment.

These targeted classes may be a departure to most students’ expectations about college but may open the doors to a very productive educational and job experiences.

There will be more options on the table that we will be ready to bring for you.  Just follow us.