“Being part of a family that did a status adjustment, but also having limited status while being in school … it is a really difficult obstacle because it places barriers on students, for them to continue with their education and it kind of discourages them as well, realizing that they can’t apply for FAFSA or that they are not eligible for in-state tuition. It did become a financial burden for me and it also put doubt in my head asking if I could continue.
I found out in my senior year that I didn’t have a legal status and was not eligible for like FAFSA or in-state tuition. Therefore, I would have to pay more. My family was willing to pay a certain amount but I knew at the end of the day they would be in debt. I was salutatorian for my high school and I had a really high GPA, I was doing all the extra-curricular activities. I was part of the Ivy League Project, and then I find out at the end that, although I did all this stuff, I had very little chances of getting into school. It was very discouraging.
I had applied to several colleges like Chapel Hill, to Wake, to UNC, and I was getting accepted into all of these colleges because my GPA was high and I had done some really good things in high school but because of my status they weren’t able to help me financially. So, I had my hopes of going to a university that I’d wanted to go for years but I couldn’t afford it. Yes, my school counselor did try to help me but he wasn’t trained to help me. He never expected to encounter a student that had limited to no status and he didn’t know what to do. It was mainly through friends and the network that I had already created with advocacy groups in the community that I was able to get resources and information. I was able to find scholarships and enter a private university.
I have a lot of friends from high school that are still in the same boat, but they didn’t have the opportunity to adjust their status and they are still struggling. In a sense I feel kind of privileged to have this status, I mean status adjustment. Cause it, it really has opened doors for me as to the resources I can access, but I feel like I still… I still can help others that were in my shoes.
We have dreams of accomplishing big things and being professionals in the future but it’s really hard when like the system is fighting against you. It’s putting all these limitations on you and you have to be really, really lucky to find a good support group or else you feel very discouraged and … I have a lot of friends, and I‘ve known a lot of people that just give up. They feel there is no point to continue and they have so much potential.”
*Pseudonym, not real name. Data collected in 2017.
Research study conducted by Dr. Laura M. Gonzalez, School of Ed., UNC Greensboro