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Martinez plan gives undocumented students a fair shot to afford college

martinez 42016Undocumented students in Illinois are currently ineligible to receive state-based financial aid.

Today, Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) passed a plan out of the Illinois Senate that would ensure that changes.

Under legislation sponsored by Martinez, known as the “Student Access Bill,” undocumented students meeting the conditions necessary to be deemed Illinois residents for tuition purposes would be eligible to access state-based financial aid at Illinois’ four-year public universities.

“I’ve met many undocumented students who have succeeded academically and been admitted to public universities, but struggle to pay for college because they don’t have a fair shot at competing for student aid,” Martinez said. “My proposal is about leveling the playing field and opening up opportunities to more students, so that they can achieve their academic goals.”

The measure does not require the state to increase spending for higher education or create a new scholarship program. It simply gives public universities the authority to offer financial aid to more students.

If Martinez’s proposal becomes law, it is estimated that 1,500 students from Illinois’ four-year public universities would receive new scholarship opportunities.

Financial aid includes any state aid or benefit funded or administered by the state, state agencies, or public institutions and universities, such as scholarships, grants, awards and room and board.

The legislation does not include access to grants provided through the Monetary Award Program.

Senate Bill 2196 is an initiative of the University of Illinois in conjunction with the Latino Policy Forum. Former Gov. Jim Edgar, other elected officials, public universities, business and civic leaders, faith-based leaders, labor unions and non-profit organizations back the legislation.

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