Testimony on Proposed HB No. 7000

An Act Equalizing Access To Student Generated Financial Aid And on Proposed SB No. 17 An Act Assisting Students Without Legal Immigration Status With The Cost Of College

Submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee

Submitted by Ingrid Alvarez, Connecticut State Director, Hispanic Federation

February 7, 2017

Chair Haddad, Vice-Chair Ziogas, Ranking Members, and members of the Committee, my name is Ingrid Alvarez and I am the Connecticut State Director of the Hispanic Federation (HF). Hispanic Federation is the premier Latino membership organization in the nation founded to address the many inequities confronting Latinos and the nonprofits that serve them. For more than 20 years, Hispanic Federation has provided grants, administered human services and coordinated advocacy for our broad network of agencies that serve more than 2 million Latinos in areas of health, education, economic empowerment, immigration and civic engagement. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony and present the views of the Hispanic Federation’s 13 Latino Nonprofit member agencies across Connecticut in full support of Proposed HB 7000: An Act Equalizing Access To Student Generated Financial Aid and SB 17: An Act Assisting Students Without Legal Immigration Status With The Cost Of College. These bills will equalize access to student-generated, institutional aid in CT public colleges and Universities for all Connecticut students regardless of immigration status. These bills create needed and broader measures to help lift barriers to college access and graduation for thousands of undocumented students in our state. Although these young dreamers have worked hard to prepare themselves to go to college and succeed, many are simply prevented from doing so because they cannot afford the cost of a higher education. Without financial aid, college is unaffordable for many high school graduates. In-state tuition is nearly $120,000 at the University of Connecticut and $82,000 at a Connecticut State University.

Undocumented immigrant students, like all students, pay into the institutional aid pool but do not have access to this aid. Undocumented students should be eligible for institutional aid as are all other students who pay tuition. Presently, there is nothing in the Connecticut statutes and regulations that prevent undocumented students from accessing this aid and allowing Connecticut the gains of an educated workforce and increased economic productivity.

Study after study affirm that per capita income and college attainment rates are closely correlated. Tuition dollars from new college students increase state revenue. In fact, a college degree raises the average lifetime tax amount by more than $55,000. It is clear that by equalizing and providing educational opportunities for all students including immigrant students, Connecticut can continue to grow its economy.

Undocumented students are only asking for the opportunity to have access to the institutional aid they pay into with student fees making this common sense, fair, legislation. If their tuition dollars fund this aid, they should be able to access this aid for financial need. Passing these bills will forge a path that honors our state’s history of affording other generations of immigrants to work hard, achieve and fully contribute to our society. In doing so, we will be answering affirmatively how we view immigrants as integral to Connecticut’s future success.

During this most unprecedented time in our country’s history where immigrant communities are under attack, we count on your leadership to guide our state. We count on you to protect and maintain Connecticut a progressive state where all its residents are valued, safe, and allowed to reach their full potential. Equalizing access to aid to undocumented students will cost taxpayers $0, yet it will send a bold message that all are welcome here.

Respectfully submitted,
Ingrid Alvarez