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Undocumented Students: What are Your State’s Policies?

Following President Obama's executive action to halt deportation on young, undocumented immigrants pursuing their education, people across the country are trying to find out how their own states handle immigration. One of the issues that has arisen regards undocumented students in higher education: How are admissions criteria affected? Are they eligible for financial aid?

The National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good surveyed the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and a number of other organizations to determine each state's institutional policies regarding undocumented students. From that information, it has created a website as a resource for educators to learn about these immigration policies. While primarily directed at higher education personnel, the site is an invaluable tool for educators at all levels. One important page, Undocumented Students: Map of State Policy Environments, provides an interactive map that discusses the policies in each state. The map is color coded, with each color representing the severity of policies in that state: purple for inclusive immigration policies, pink for restrictive immigration policies and white for unstipulated.

Around 700,000 undocumented students attend K-12 public schools in the United States --- a staggering number that continues to grow. It's very likely that you have come across an undocumented student in one of your classes, whether you realize it or not; and if you're just starting out, you can likely expect it sometime in your career. Immigration policy is at the forefront of the political climate, and the trajectory of this debate is going to have an undeniable impact on our classrooms. As a teacher, it can be very difficult to navigate this issue. How do you respond to an undocumented student's particular needs? How do you approach their families? How can you and your colleagues decide how to proceed? Thanks to the NASFAA, you now have an accessible tool to help you answer these questions.