Posted by: Discover Scholars | October 6, 2008

Educational Funding and Immigrants

One hot-button issue that comes up from time-to-time in political debates is the degree to which children of undocumented or “illegal” immigrant families should get public education funding. Generally, one side contends that public monies should only fund children of U.S. citizens, because only American citizens pay taxes “into the system.” In contrast, others argue that children of immigrants do not choose to come into the country, and therefore should be treated the same as anyone else.

While we’re sympathetic to both sides of this debate, we also find it peculiar that the educational opportunity of so many students ends up being decided by political outcomes. As an example, an editorial in last week’s Mercury News of San Jose, CA stated that “the California Dream Act moved to the governor’s desk, and the future of thousands of students depends on his decision” (our emphasis).

This situation is problematic, because of the influence that special-interest lobbying has on the political decision-making process. But it also illustrates how funding students through can be preferable to existing forms of tuition assistance. As we’ve explained in past posts, a significant advantage of is our emphasis on donor choice. That means that rather than relying on politicians to help students, we rely on the general public to fund whom it believes is worthy of their donations.

Want to fund children of immigrants? That’s great! Just provide that specification and let us do the rest. Feel that other segments of the student population are worthy of your money? That’s OK, too.  You’re free to give to whomever you wish.

Note the advantages over the current system: if a significant portion of donors wish to specifically fund children of undocumented immigrants, then those students will get funding from people who believe it’s particularly important. Meanwhile, those who don’t wish to see their money spent in that fashion aren’t inconvenienced by others’ donations. Best of all, neither party has to worry that special interest groups are deciding funding outcomes.

Of course, we know that we’re unlikely to fully extinguish the wrangling that goes on in political debates, and at the moment, we don’t offer the ability for donors to give to children of immigrants.  But isn’t it worth pausing and thinking about potential alternatives that could help us accomplish all of our goals just a little bit more efficiently?

Help us continue to grow:

Students: Apply today!

Donors: Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the students of your choice.


  1. […] we’ve mentioned in other contexts, each side makes persuasive points. We agree that increased government involvement often leads to a […]

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