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In passing the legislation, Minnesota became one of just four states to offer undocumented students financial aid.
The formula that determines the size of a student’s state grant is built around the federal Pell Grant Program. So the Pell grant amount is subtracted — even in the case of illegal immigrants, who are not eligible for federal aid.
That formula, written into law, might be the answer to the question: “Why am I getting such a small grant?” Dodds said. “We may look at changing the law in the future.”
During a round-table talk Monday with Pogemiller, a handful of students told him about being unsure, as high schoolers, whether to tell their counselors that they were undocumented, working multiple jobs to pay tuition bills and taking semesters off to save up. Several said they hope this law means the application process is easier for their younger siblings.
Oscar Martinez, a rising sophomore at Augsburg studying chemistry, said that he’s “envious” of his little sister, who is 17 years old and also undocumented. “But it’s a good envious,” he said. “I’m happy that she won’t have to experience all the hardship.”
Pogemiller stressed that he and others will push to improve the grant formula so that it doesn’t penalize students who can’t apply for federal grants.
“I’m so sorry that it’s not perfect yet,” he told them, turning to Martinez. “It’ll get there, hopefully for your sister, for your siblings.”
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7384