Opinion: If Georgia wants to increase college degrees, stop blocking children of immigrants

JoBeth Allen is a professor emeritus in the University of Georgia department of language and literacy education. She is co-director of U-Lead Athens, which supports equal access to higher education for students of immigrant families.

In this essay, Allen says Georgia could meet its goal to increase postsecondary graduates by enabling more children of immigrants to attend college and technical schools.

By JoBeth Allen

Welcome to Steve Wrigley, the new chancellor of the University System of Georgia. He identified Gov. Nathan Deal’s Complete College Georgia’s goal of increasing postsecondary education from 47 percent to 60 percent of the state’s workforce.

The Complete College Georgia Initiative specifically calls for more African-American, Hispanic, and other underrepresented groups to complete their degrees. One of the barriers is paying for college, a “far greater challenge for today’s students” than for previous generations, noted Dr. Wrigley.

I have great news for Dr. Wrigley, the Board of Regents and Gov. Deal. There are several thousand students who have attended K-12 schools in Georgia, who have resided here most of their lives, whose families pay taxes, and who are eager and ready to attend our universities, colleges, and technical institutions. They are un(der)documented immigrants, “under” documented because many of them do have documentation such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status, both federal programs deeming immigrants lawfully present in the U.S.

Why do so few of these students attend Georgia institutions of higher education?

Georgia State University, Wrigley’s alma mater, is now accepting un(der)documented students (they are still banned from the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech  and Georgia College & State University). That removes one barrier, but leaves another: cost.

In-state tuition and fees are $8,618 at GSU. Un(der)documented students pay $23,186 and are ineligible for any state or federal financial aid. So students who attended school together, played sports on the same teams, and who in some cases have citizen siblings find it financially prohibitive to attend college together in Georgia.

Other un(der)documented students are eager to go to technical schools to become electricians, nurses, or skilled mechanics. Institutions like Athens Technical College would seem an excellent choice. Tuition and fees for students living in Georgia are a very reasonable $3,328.

However, un(der)documented students are considered “international students.” Technical College System of Georgia policy states they “shall pay tuition at a rate four times the rate paid by Georgia residents.” So for un(der)documented students, most of whom have attended local elementary, middle, and high schools, the cost of one year at ATC is $13,312; a two-year associate’s degree would cost $26,624 (not counting books).

According to a 2015 report by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, immigrants contribute substantially to Georgia’s economy. Immigrants made up 13 percent of the state’s workforce and generated a net business income of $2.9 billion from new immigrant business owners. Undocumented immigrants — who many people believe pay no taxes — contribute more than $350 million in state and local taxes annually.

The GBPI concluded that Georgia could increase annual state and local tax revenues by $10 million through a more skilled, higher earning workforce by allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. “More inclusive tuition policies will help build a diverse and skilled workforce. Business leaders value diversity among potential employees. Companies participating in the governor’s High-Demand Career Initiative identified the need to attract more women and minorities.” Further, declining enrollments threaten some Georgia institutions of higher education to the point that they are giving in-state tuition to students from adjacent states — but not to un(der)documented Georgia residents.

These reasons for granting in-state tuition to un(der)documented immigrants make sense economically. For me, the reasons have human faces. They are students from local high schools who attend U-Lead Athens, a one-to-one college mentoring program for immigrants and children of immigrants. Our graduates have scholarships to Agnes Scott, Berea, Emory, Eastern Connecticut State, Illinois Institute of Technology, Smith College and Young Harris College. Statistics show few students who leave the state will return to live and work in Georgia. Those who stay in Georgia can often afford only three or four courses a year. They will not graduate for many years.

Dr. Wrigley, granting in-state tuition to un(der)documented immigrants will take you a long way toward reaching Complete College Georgia’s goal of increasing post-secondary education from 47 percent to 60 percent of the state’s workforce. Now, 27 other states do so. Let’s join them.

 

Reader Comments 0

40 comments
AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

"Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status, both federal programs deeming immigrants lawfully present in the U.S."


A big fat lie.  The "deferred action" referred to is "deportation".  DACA is simply Obama's decision to use his prosecutorial discretion as the chief executive of the USA to make DACA folks last in line to be deported.


If a district attorney declines, for some reason (lack of evidence or conflicting witnesses, for example),  to prosecute an armed robber, that doesn't make armed robbery "lawful."



newsphile
newsphile

One has to wonder where all this would end.  Many people come here to escape lawlessness in their homelands and now are fighting to disobey laws in the new country of their choice.  While I don't like some of our laws, just imagine how our country would become if all of us disobeyed the laws we didn't like.  When people who have come here illegally are given voices as lobbyists and  protestors, and are granted such non-stop attention by universities and media, where is our country headed? When we lose the precious things, among them law and order, that make us a different and desirable country, what next?  We must look beyond the noses on our faces. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

"Florida VIA WLRN

Brandon Lewis, in Miami, failed Florida’s Algebra I final exam eight times. His mother’s a math teacher."

ArturoK
ArturoK

News alert! Our universities could easily see capacity enrollment if we would just capitulate to the open borders demand that all of this really is!

Carole Jester Spinks
Carole Jester Spinks

Start teaching our own kids the Old Math, English Grammar, Geography and Spelling!!!

class80olddog
class80olddog

So the goal of Georgia is to get to 60% post-secondary education?  According to studies, 65% of jobs in the future will require "post-secondary" education (perhaps because students graduate from HS with no skills and little basic learning).  But only 35% of future jobs will require a Bachelor's degree or higher from a four-year college. Already we have close to 30% of Georgians that possess that and I am sure that "in the pipeline" it is closer to the 35%.  If only 47% currently go to :post-secondary" school, I am guessing that only 17% go to certificate or associate degree programs in Technical schools.  The "jobs of the future" study says that approximately 30% of Georgians will need that training.  So there is where the deficit is.  They are not transferable: you can't take a person with a Bachelor's in History and put him to work as a welder, or as a nurse, or as a automobile mechanic.  These require specialized training.  Our High Schools are downplaying these programs in favor of everyone attending four-year colleges, where a lot are overwhelmed because they weren't taught much in HS.

readcritic
readcritic

@class80olddog You hit one nail on the head. Students need the vocational training put back into the high schools because every child is not college material as the pundits would have everyone believe. Students are taught plenty in high school. The problem is that the powers that be make the teachers responsible for learning. The student just has to exist without effort. Discipline in the classroom is forbidden and no child will fail!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

This response of mine from the last thread needs to be repeated on this thread, also:


"Dr. Wrigley, granting in-state tuition to un(der)documented immigrants will take you a long way toward reaching Complete College Georgia’s goal of increasing post-secondary education from 47 percent to 60 percent of the state’s workforce. Now, 27 other states do so. Let’s join them."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++


 I have no doubt that this is true based on my 35 years in public education.  However, most of the American populace is not wise enough, yet, based on comments below, to let those facts sink into to their minds as to how to improve the American society for all people.  Too many people still prefer to blame others, which is about as foolish a solution as can be imagined. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Correction in grammar, above:


"However, most of the American populace ARE not wise enough, yet. . . ."

class80olddog
class80olddog

If we wanted more smart immigrants to come to this country, we could increase the number of student visas available, and put requirements on who we accept.  But they would come in the legal route.  

Starik
Starik

@class80olddog We should also have a legal route for farmworkers and restaurant workser and all the other jobs that need hard working labor.

Dana Cain Farr
Dana Cain Farr

It is heartbreaking to know the stories of hard-working, exemplary kids who cannot attend college because of decisions their parents made for them. We really should do better.

BillArd
BillArd

Maureen,


Quit being misleading by saying that the state is blocking children of 'immigrants' from going to college.  That is a lie!  The state is blocking illegal immigrants from going to college.  It is a slap in the face to lump illegal immigrants into the same group as people who came to this country the correct way.  My wife is the daughter of immigrants who came to this country the legal way.  Her parents came here to pursue the American Dream, not to steal it like the illegals!

Starik
Starik

@BillArd And if the "legal way" is unavailable because of immigration laws that aren't focused on what the country needs?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik @BillArd Then you should be focused on changing the law.  I was disappointed that the Immigration Reform did not pass back in 2013.  However, there have been problems with President Obama's administrative actions, which have been enjoined.  Once inaugurated,  President Trump will most likely rescind these actions.  However, that does not mean he will immediately move to deport these students.  Congress may, though, make e-verify mandatory and make it a crime for employers to employ an illegal immigrant.  At that time, when these DACA students graduate, they will not be able to work in the US except for by themselves.  Congress may also address illegal immigrants as contractors.  That would shut most doors to employment.

Starik
Starik

@class80olddog @Starik @BillArd Why? Who's going to do the hard work in this country? Not the thugs, crackheads and methheads and the multitude of the phony "disabled?"

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

The "hard work" does not require a university or collegiate education.

Pelosied
Pelosied

Nonsense.

What other country allows illegal aliens to determine its immigration policies or how to use its limited education resources?

Starik
Starik

@Pelosied We're a country of immigrants, and we continue to need them. We need immigration laws that make sense.  

Pelosied
Pelosied

We are not a country of immigrants. We haven't been since perhaps the 1600s. And with a population of 330 million we don't need them.

What we do need is to put our own people to work.

readcritic
readcritic

@Pelosied Is anyone aware that the U.S. politicians give more benefits to "illegals" than to our own citizens? Children of military families who are transferred frequently on assignments are required to pay out-of-state college tuition rates. Family members who have served our country abroad during several tours of duty in battle zones still owe college loan payback at those out-of-state rates. Perhaps if the illegals want college, they could serve in our military to actually "earn" some benefits not even granted to native-born citizens. The U.S. also needs to end birthright citizenship (anchor baby) status. Any and all should follow the LEGAL steps to becoming a citizen if they are truly so inclined. Freedom is not free as the many military cemeteries' headstones prove.

creative
creative

Am I the only one that thinks less people need to go to college.  Unless learning a trade, you can learn the same things online that you learn in college.   Blue collar workers make way more than severs with masters degrees in creative writing.  It used to be look at that grease monkey you need to go to college so you don't have to do that.  Now it's pointless.  Intern you will learn way more in less time.  Or go to a tech school.  Women's studies and History degrees won't pay the bills.  

Starik
Starik

@creative History worked well for me.  Law school followed...

JKToole
JKToole

@creative Why is learning, getting an education, becoming an expert in a field of study, suddenly a bad thing? I went to school for an education - not a job. I'm better all around for it - including my paycheck.

Q1225
Q1225

Aren't blue collar workers the ones crying for Trump to come and save them because they can't get jobs/don't make as much money as they used to?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@JKToole @creative There is no problem with getting an education - they should go back to Mexico and go to the University there.

DarrylDouglass
DarrylDouglass

Hey JoBeth, how about you spending more time on legal U.S. citizens instead of criminals, so that the rightful can attend the Georgia university system.

readcritic
readcritic

@DarrylDouglass What other countries provide a free education (complete with other language learning support) to illegal invaders at taxpayer expense?

($15K per student per year!!!!!)

UltraElf
UltraElf

Note to liberals, would you call a bank robber an UNDOCUMENTED withdrawer? What part of ILLEGAL as in against the law do you NOT understand? They were born here ILLEGALLY. They were taken here by their parents ILLEGALLY. Two illegals do not make a legal.

Starik
Starik

@UltraElf So who cares how they arrived? Their parents acted in their best interests of their children and themselves, to the great benefit of this country. Do you like draft dodgers as Presidents?  They're law violators to the detriment of whoever got drafted in their place... not that I'd want to be in the military with Clinton, Bush or Trump.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Their parents robbed banks but they did so to benefit their children, so give them a pass. Right? WRONG!

readcritic
readcritic

@class80olddog @Starik @UltraElf If the illegals no longer received so many "free" benefits, they would be less inclined to come to the U.S. looking for the better life. They might have to start working on improving things where they live. The minority population is exploding here, and there is obviously a reason for that. No other country is as liberal with hand-outs as the U.S. In fact. many other countries have discontinued birthright citizenship (anchor baby). It is no wonder true American citizens are fed up. The dream for the illegal is the nightmare for the taxpaying citizen who has no say as to where his money goes.