A private college in Arizona is charging students a fee to fund a scholarship for illegal immigrants, a controversial move supporters say gives a hand to those who need it but anti-illegal immigration advocates call irresponsible.
Prescott College is tacking a $30 annual fee onto its $28,000 annual tuition to establish an annual scholarship for “undocumented” students, as part of a policy first proposed by students and faculty from the undergraduate and Social Justice and Human Rights Master of Arts divisions. While students can opt out of paying the fee, if they do nothing it will be automatically imposed. Backers say it helps reverse what they call Arizona’s reputation as a “national example of discriminatory politics.”
“I am proud that our students take on the role of scholar activists,” said school President John Flicker, adding that the university is committed to “broaden access to higher education for a diverse group of students” and “mobilize its resources towards social justice.”
Supporters note that illegal immigrants are allowed to attend state and private colleges in Arizona, but in most cases cannot legally work or receive government grants or loans. Making legal residents enrolled at the school pay for illegal immigrants’ education is a slap in the face to a generation already facing its post-college years saddled with enormous debt, said Andrew Kloster, legal Fellow for the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at Heritage Foundation.
“At a time when student loan debt is over $1 trillion it is irresponsible for Prescott College to offer this privilege at the expense of other students,” Kloster said. “While the dollar amount seems small per student, the fee does send a message to potential donors to Prescott College that the administration is less concerned with sound financial management than it is with making a political statement,” Kloster added.