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Undocumented students and those with DACA status can request fee waivers for enrollment deposits

UndocUVA organized an emergency mutual aid drive this week to aid matriculating undocumented students

<p>University administrators clarified any undocumented or DACA student who has been admitted may request to have their $400 enrollment deposit waived.</p>

University administrators clarified any undocumented or DACA student who has been admitted may request to have their $400 enrollment deposit waived.

Following repeated questions and requests from undocUVA — an organization that provides support and resources to undocumented students — University administrators clarified any undocumented or DACA student who has been admitted may request to have their $400 enrollment deposit waived. Students can email Allyson Umali, assistant dean of undergraduate admissions, at aumali@virginia.edu to have the deposit waived, regardless of documentation status.

UndocUVA also provided a fee waiver email template that undocumented students can use to request a fee waiver. Students do not need to disclose citizenship status when sending a request for a fee waiver — however they should disclose any extenuating circumstances in the request. 

With decision day Saturday, students who choose to matriculate to the University must pay a mandatory enrollment deposit of $400 to become an official member of the incoming class. While some matriculating students may obtain a fee waiver through Student Financial Services based on their family income, undocumented students without DACA status are unable to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid due to citizenship requirements. As such, universities remain unaware if they fall within the eligible income bracket to obtain a fee waiver. 

Caro Campos, undocUVA president and third-year College student, said that the organization decided that something needed to be done to help undocumented students facing enrollment fees because of their status during its Monday executive meeting. The group organized an emergency mutual aid drive and encouraged community members to donate any amount to @undocuva on Venmo with the subject line “scholarship.” The money already raised through the drive — more than $1,100 — will be directly distributed to undocumented students.

“The past two days have reiterated the power and importance of solidarity and mutual aid,” Campos said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “We remain committed to proactively building infrastructures and networks of support for undocumented and DACA students.”

In a statement Tuesday night, undocUVA also drew attention to undocumented students being excluded from enrollment fee waivers. 

“We believe the administration’s response (or lack thereof) is irresponsible, given that this is a barrier that they were aware of weeks in advance,” undocUVA wrote.

On Tuesday night, undocUVA spoke to Vice Provost for Enrollment Stephen Farmer and were informed that undocumented students could email Umali to request a fee waiver, a reiternation of a previous University policy that was not highly publicized until now. Both Campos and undocUVA believe that the University only providing support for matriculation is not enough, and there needs to be internal changes to support undocumented students at the University.

“What occurred on [Tuesday]  with the lack of clear guidelines on enrollment deposit waivers for undocumented students is a manifestation of a lack of proactive, careful planning in light of the 2020 matriculation policy change to allow all students regardless of status to enroll,” Campos said. “As we said in our original statement in the summer of 2020 and as was repeated yesterday, matriculation is not enough.”

The University announced in June that all students — regardless of citizenship status — would be permitted to enroll starting in the 2020-2021 academic year. The decision came after years of advocacy by undocumented students and allies.

In addition providing mutual aid funds to undocumented students, members of undocUVA worked during the past year to ensure the successful passage of two bills in the Virginia General Assembly expanding financial aid eligibility to undocumented students. Following the passage of HB 2123 and SB 1387 in the 2021 General Assembly session, undocumented students who qualify for in-state tuition will have access to state financial aid beginning in August 2022. For the 2021-22 school year, however, undocumented students will remain ineligible for state financial aid.

Matriculating undocumented students can view the Student Financial Services page on resources for undocumented students — which undocUVA played a large effort in creating — to gain insight into which financial resources are available during their time at the University. Individuals with the means are encouraged to donate to @undocuva on Venmo to continue providing funds for scholarships for undocumented students.

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