Student activists from the University of Connecticut are advocating for the state legislature to provide access to institutional financial aid for undocumented students.
The bill would enable anyone classified as an in-state student to receive aid from funds set aside by Connecticut public higher education institutions for tuition.
State Rep. Gregg Haddad, D-Mansfield, introduced House Bill 7000: An Act Equalizing Access to Student-Generated Financial Aid. The Higher Education Committee approved the bill on March 15; the legislation next needs to be passed by the House and Senate.
Also under consideration is Senate Bill 17: An Act Assisting Students Without Legal Immigration Status with the Cost of College.
Wayne Locust, UConn’s vice-president for enrollment planning and management, Wayne Locust voiced the university’s support for the legislation in testimony to the Higher Education Committee on Feb. 7.
UConn students associated with Connecticut Students for a Dream, a youth-led advocacy group for undocumented individuals, are also working to ensure the legislation’s passage.
“We do a lot of outreach in terms of getting people to come in and lobby with us. We have a very calculated way of looking at different legislators, different senators and seeing what sort of support they give to the bill,” Farzana Zubair, regional organizer for Connecticut Students for a Dream’s UConn group and eighth-semester human development and family studies major said. “We bring all our undocumented students, we bring all our supporters, into the LOB, which is the legislative office building (in Hartford), and we go talk to each legislator, and if we think we can convince them, we go try to convince them.”
As part of Connecticut Students for a Dream’s #AffordtoDream week of action in endorsement of the legislation, several students participated this year on March 15 in a “Read In” and on March 16 in a “Teach In” at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. The events welcomed all students, educators and undocumented student allies.