Undocumented students may lose private funding
ASU Devil Press



Awarding private scholarships violates Prop. 300, state official says

 by Dan O'Connor
 published on Thursday, A.S.U. http://www.statepress.com/issues/2007/09/13/news/701735

Undocumented ASU students may be forced to forfeit all private funds awarded from the University if public officials deem them unlawful.

Under Proposition 300, Arizona universities and colleges are prohibited from allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition or public-funded financial aid.

But ASU is providing some undocumented students with private funds to compensate their fiscal needs, according to University officials.

Arizona Treasurer Dean Martin said he will be requesting that the Arizona Board of Regents, who govern the in-state universities, to alter their policies in order to comply with state law.

"The problem that exists is that the ASU foundation is raising money for ASU to use at their discretion," he said. "The money is public dollar and therein lies the problem."

Martin, who sponsored Proposition 300 while in the Arizona State Legislature, said he is asking the regents to meet the terms set forth by the law.

ASU's current use of the funds is unlawful, he said.

"You can't ignore state or private law because that is what the public wants," he said. "You're still subject to state and federal law."

Further investigation may proceed in the near future, but Martin said he looks forward to resolving the situation before he takes any further measures.

"I would prefer not to go the legal route," he said. "I think this can be resolved by simply following the law.

"I hope [ASU] will do the right thing here."

Currently, ASU officials believe they are acting accordingly to law, but will comply with Martin's request to reevaluate their distribution of privatized funds, said Virgil Renzulli, ASU vice president of public affairs.

"It is not our intent to circumvent law," he said. "But the proposition doesn't specifically ban [using private funds for illegal immigrants]. It does not bar illegal immigrants to attend the university."

If the inquiry into ASU's method of allocating private funds proves the money comes from public funds when it is awarded to undocumented students, the board will adjust the law, he said.

"There's a gray area there where we think that we are doing it in a accordance to the law, but it could be fine-tuned," he said. "We are trying to do the right thing."

The regents haven't been in contact with Martin, but expect all three state universities to comply with the law, Regent President Fred Boice said in an e-mail.

If the law does in fact bar undocumented students from receiving these funds, they will be forced to forfeit any privately funded scholarships they currently hold, according to Arizona law.

One undocumented business senior who wished to remain anonymous because he is working illegally said he has been receiving private funds from ASU since Proposition 300 went into effect.

If his aid was taken away from him, it would destroy his dreams, he said.

"It's extremely disheartening that people would bring this upon us [undocumented students]," he said. "We are people, too, and this is our home. It's just another obstacle we're going to have to overcome."

Reach the reporter at: daniel.oconnor@asu.edu

UNDOCUMENTED UNDERGRADS: Illegal immigrant students talk about how they work and pay taxes just like other students at ASU, and how Prop. 300 affects their future. Students who work and live in Arizona their whole lives say the law is unfair in the way it targets students who have been in Arizona paying taxes their entire lives