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Emory University recognizes potential in DACA beneficiaries

Friday, May 15, 2015

Despite state laws that prevent undocumented students from attending many of Georgia’s major universities, Emory University recognizes the potential in such students. A private university in Atlanta, Emory has announced that it will offer scholarships to students who qualify for a special reprieve from deportation via the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Because DACA recipients don’t qualify for federal student aid, Emory University’s announcement is a significant step for hopeful immigrant students.

In making its announcement, Emory joins the ranks of several other private institutions that admit DACA recipients and offer them financial aid, including prestigious schools like Dartmouth College, the University of Notre Dame and Tufts University.  Like other such universities, Emory’s tuition is not cheap: $44,400 for the 2014-15 academic year. 

Emory has not yet announced where funding will come from nor how many scholarships it expects to be available. A report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, however, says that the university will use “private, nongovernmental resources” to fund the scholarships.

Currently, twenty-one states allow DACA students to pay in-state tuition. A handful of states also offer financial aid to such students. In 2015, lawmakers in eight states, including Georgia, introduced similar legislation. The Georgia bill never made it to a full vote.

In Georgia, nearly 20,000 immigrants have been accepted into the DACA program, but few are eligible, under current law, to attend college in the state university system.  Efforts to restrict access to state schools, however, seem defeatist.  Immigrants attend public schools, pay taxes and could make a much larger contribution to Georgia’s economy. Instead, many are forced to attend college out of state.

From lost tuition revenue to the economic contributions of those who don’t return to the state, current policy is a lose-lose situation. Emory’s announcement is a step in the right direction for a pool of talented students who don’t want to leave home.

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