NYU is doing something pretty awesome for undocumented students

Tonight, President Obama is giving a speech on immigration policy to the nation. Though many networks have decided that shows like, oh, The Biggest Loser are more important than airing the President’s speech, the reality is we’re at a PIVOTAL time for immigration policy in this country and we should be paying closer attention. Obama’s much-needed, and sure-to-be-controversial speech, is meant to address the 11.3 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the United States. Of those 11.3 million immigrants, there are over a million students, and colleges are slowly beginning to more formerly address the issue of undocumented applicants. With immigration heavy on the national brain, New York University this week established and announced a pretty rad new program to help out undocumented students. Government, are you taking notes?

Beginning next year, the university announced that undocumented students who reside in New York state will be eligible for financial aid and scholarships. That means that even if an applicant isn’t documented to legally live in the U.S., they’ll receive funds equivalent to what a U.S. citizen would, depending upon academic merit. You’re probably thinking, wait that wasn’t the case before? Nope.

Next question: Who’s behind the switcheroo? That would be student-run organization Dream Team @ NYU, who repeatedly approached school administrators and officials in an effort to spread awareness about the undocumented community, which is often shut out of benefits that citizens have. The group began speaking with the NYU Office of Financial Aid last year, and continued to be in conversation with them until they hashed out an agreement on Sunday.

The university was initially concerned that including undocumented students would further stretch the school’s financial resources, but the Dream Team pressed them, noting that including undocumented students would go a long way towards upholding the school’s public support for the DREAM Act. (That’s the bill that would grant residency to certain undocumented immigrants.)

It’s a giant step forward for NYU, though similar programs have already been operating at other schools, such as U.C. Berkeley in California and Columbia University.

“What the [Dream Team] is working on now is keeping in touch with administrators and expand the program in order to have all undocumented students in the U.S. be able to afford an NYU education,” Dream Team member Sandra Honigman told Buzzfeed News. “We have members in the (Dream Team) who are undocumented and we would like to continue fighting for this.”

So will the President address the NYU changes in his speech tonight? Keep your ears peeled. And if he does, it’ll likely be in that praise-worthy way, which will hopefully get a lot of other school administrators thinking.

[Image via]