DACA Students’ Accessibility to Post Secondary Education in
North Carolina and Youth’s Activist Efforts in the Research Triangle Park Area
By: Stephanie Colorado
Education in North Carolina
Undocumented students face out-of-state tuition costs to North Carolina public schools, and have limited access to federal financial aid due to their documentation status. Many undocumented students do not proceed to a higher level of education due to high tuition costs, and if they do, they experience overbearing economic difficulties.
As of 2012, North Carolina had 31,000 undocumented students. On a national level, only 5% to 10% of undocumented students continue their education after high school. This is associated with the median income for undocumented families, which is 30% less than U.S. born families. Affordability plays a factor in pursuing a higher-level education (Closing the Gap, 2012).
North Carolina’s legislature defines in-state students as someone with legal residency status who has lived in NC for at least two years. Undocumented students are not legal residents of the US and therefore do not quality for in-state tuition.
Activist Efforts in Research Triangle Park
Immigrant youth from UNC-CH, Duke, and the NC Dream Team have focused their efforts on gaining in-state tuition for undocumented students. There efforts intensified in 2013 with two campaigns: the One State,One-Rate, and the Adelante Coalition’s “Let’s Learn NC”.
In early January 2014, the One State, One Raters, composed of UNC students, NC Dream Team members, and supporters, marched with signs from Franklin Street’s post office in Chapel Hill to the Attorney General’s Office in Raleigh, calling it the “March of Broken Dreams.” Their efforts aimed towards pressuring NC Attorney General Roy Cooper to support in-state tuition for undocumented students. His office responded with a letter stating that in-state tuition for undocumented students would not be possible under North Carolina’s current policy of tying in-state eligibility to state residency. This letter broke the hopes of many students. Despite the disappointment in these advocacy efforts in the Research Triangle Park area, groups continue to talk and advocate for a change in the current policy (Dudash 2014).
In Durham, activism thrives within the NC Dream Team. NC Dream Team member Keny Murillo states how he and his team have lobbied and marched to the General Assembly to confront politicians about this issue. Riverside High School students have also been part of the NC Dream Team and have been active in fighting to achieve educational rights for undocumented students (NC Dream Team 2014).
At Duke, the efforts of the AccessDuke initiative beginning in Spring 2014 give light to advocacy on campus. AccessDuke representatives, composed of Duke students, are advocating for need-blind consideration for undocumented students applying to Duke. Talks between AccessDuke representatives and the school administration are still ongoing, revealing that there is a possibility and hope that the group of students will successfully convince the administration to provide need-blind basis to undocumented students and expand equal access to opportunities (In Support of Undocumented Students, 2014).
Admissions Checklist for Deferred Action (DACA) Students. (2014, January 1). Retrieved November 7, 2014, from http://www.durhamtech.edu/cgl/AdmissionsStep
Closing The Gap | Statistics on Undocumented Students. (2012, January 1). Retrieved November 7, 2014, from http://www.goldendoorscholars.org/infographic.html
Dudash, A. (2014, January 11). Undocumented students, supporters march 30 miles for in-state tuition. Retrieved November 7, 2014, from http://www.heraldsun.com/news/localnews/x1401033066/Undocumented-students-supporters-march-30-miles-for-in-state-tuition
In Support of Undocumented Students. (2014, March 24). Retrieved November 7, 2014, from http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2014/03/25/support-undocumented-students
NC Dream Team. (2014, January 1). Retrieved November 7, 2014, from http://ncdreamteam.org/tag/students/