Undocumented Students in CT seek American Dream

NEW HAVEN, Conn (WTNH) — It’s graduation season across Connecticut, but for thousands of high school graduates, college is a goal that is out of reach.

Undocumented students in the state face a daunting struggle to navigate and afford attaining a higher education.

Seniors like Yanimar Cortez of New Haven who attends Hill Regional Career High School.

“Senior year is supposed to a fun year, but it’s been like the worst year,” said Cortez.

No excitement when it comes to college, but fear and anxiety that she won’t be able to afford it.

“I don’t have a lot of opportunities. Many scholarships are not for me, they are restricted, so it’s been tough,” said Cortez.

Cortez moved with her parents to the U.S. from Mexico when she was two.

She and other undocumented students can’t access institutional aid, and are ruled out of scholarships.

“The main reason my parents brought me to this country was to get an education, was to be a better person, to help society out,” said Cortez.

She plans to go Southern Connecticut State University this fall, paying full tuition.

“It’s going to be a struggle because I have a sister also in college,” said Cortez

According the Migration Policy Institute, there are around 19,000 undocumented persons of college age.

A bill in the State House would have given equal access to college aid regardless of immigration status in Connecticut, but it stalled out in the legislative session.

At UConn, state law requires in-state tuition rates for undocumented students who are accepted.

Just this month, Wesleyan University in Middletown announced it will provide needed financial aid for undocumented students beginning in fall of 2017.

There is other help out there, Connecticut Students for a Dream fights for the rights of undocumented students.

It provides young adults, like Yanimar Cortez, help and guidance towards accomplishing the American Dream.

For the time being, the help they were hoping for from the state will remain just a dream.