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Martinez, McGuire, Steans advocate for equal access to financial aid

steans presser 040516State Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) and State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) spoke out in support of legislation that will ensure all students have a chance to compete for aid to pay for college at a press conference today that was organized by the Latino Policy Forum.

Undocumented students are currently ineligible to receive state-based financial aid, but that would change under the proposal McGuire and Steans are backing.

“Our state’s future prosperity depends on keeping our brightest minds in state,” Steans said. “Currently, these 1,500 students cannot even compete for the scholarships that would allow them to pursue higher education here in Illinois; this legislation, which our state universities support, will provide the access they now lack.”

The measure, known as the Student Access Bill, would allow undocumented students meeting the conditions necessary to be deemed Illinois residents for tuition purposes to be eligible to access state-based financial aid at Illinois’ four-year public universities.

The Student Access Bill does not require the state to increase spending for higher education or create a new scholarship program. It simply gives more students a chance to receive needed aid. If the initiative becomes law, it is estimated that 1,500 students from Illinois’ four-year universities would receive new scholarship opportunities.

The Student Access Bill is designed to give students like Laura Cholula, who spoke at the press conference, a chance to get an affordable education. She attends Northern Illinois University and works over 50 hours a week during the summer but is still unable to pay her college expenses or obtain scholarships.

The lead sponsor of the legislation is Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago).

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