Financial aid extended to undocumented students

John Ambrosio, News Editor

NYU’s Office of Financial Aid announced Nov. 16 that it would allow certain undocumented immigrant applicants to apply for financial aid as part of a new pilot program. NYU spokesman John Beckman said the policy will affect undocumented applicants graduating from New York State high schools who are applying to NYU for fall 2015.

“NYU is very pleased to be starting a pilot program this year to offer institutional scholarship aid on par with what we offer to U.S. students to eligible undocumented students from New York,” Beckman said in an email on Nov. 17. “We believe NYU offers a great education, and we hope this will make it a bit easier for undocumented young men and women from New York to attend NYU. We’re sympathetic to their circumstances and the difficulties they face.”

According to the Office of Financial Aid’s website, undocumented immigrant applicants can apply for financial aid packages using their parents’ individual taxpayer identification numbers.

Beckman added that this new program is being implemented largely thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Dream Team at NYU.

“This effort actually begins, we’re proud to say, with a group of NYU students who call themselves the Dream Team who came to the Admissions and Financial Aid office and challenged us to do better by these young men and women,” Beckman said. “This pilot is a tribute, to no small extent, to those students’ passion and compassion.”

Tisch senior Sandra Honigman, a core Dream Team member, said the group, which authored the policy change, was happy to hear the news.

“For the past year the NYU Dream Team has been talking with administrators about implementing the financial aid to be available for undocumented students at NYU,” Honigman said. “After some talking with some of the administrations, including Randall Deike and Lynn Higginbotham, we were able to come to a compromise about what should be done and right now we are very pleased to say that something is actually being done.”

Honigman added that, as it stands, the program is still in a pilot phase and therefore only applies to students applying for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Professor Cristina Beltrán said the new policy is a good first step, but there is more to be done to address the issue of student debt. 

“The change in NYU’s policies is testimony to the efforts of the NYU Dream Team and the organizing of undocumented activists and their allies,” Beltrán said. “It’s a great first step. Of course, the larger issue of student debt and the rising cost of tuition at private universities like NYU still remains a problem in need of a solution.”

Honigman also said the financial aid offered to undocumented applicants will not impact the university’s larger financial aid calculations.

“Undocumented financial aid is coming from a different fund; it is separate from the documented fund,” Honigman said. “In the end there are very few undocumented students applying so it really shouldn’t affect NYU students’ financial aid. It is just creating the opportunity for more students to apply here and be able to afford it.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 18 print edition. Email John Ambrosio at [email protected]