Admission Policies for Students With Deferred Action Differ Across 5Cs

While a federal program introduced in June by President Obama will allow some undocumented students to stay in the country temporarily and gain work authorization, admissions offices at some of the Claremont Colleges will continue to regard them as international students.

Administrators at Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College said that their admissions offices classify undocumented students as international students when evaluating their application files.

Admissions officers at HMC and Scripps said that this classification affects international and undocumented students’ chance at admissions. Since these schools have limited financial aid for international students, they do not evaluate international and undocumented students on a need-blind basis, meaning that if an undocumented student indicates financial need, the student's chance of admission is slim.

CMC administrators would neither confirm or deny that their school evaluates international students on a need-blind basis.

The college’s website states, “A limited amount of need-based financial aid is available to international students. Competition for this aid is very selective.”

Peter Osgood, Director of Admission at HMC, said that HMC’s policy will not be affected by President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA makes it possible for some young undocumented immigrants who have graduated from high school, obtained a GED or been honorably discharged from the armed forces to receive deferred action, a temporary license to stay in the country.

An applicant who has received deferred action would still be considered an international student, Osgood said.

“The issue is the funding,” he said.

Victoria Romero, Vice President of Enrollment at Scripps, said that deferred action recipients, who are not U.S. citizens, are legally excluded from certain sources of financial aid.

"The difference is that U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for federal and state money. Non-U.S. citizens are not,” she said.

As a result, financial aid for international and undocumented students, including those who have been granted deferred action, must come from the school itself.

“We have a limited amount of need-based financial aid for international students,” Romero said.

For example, HMC can fund approximately three international or undocumented students per year, Osgood said. He said that there is currently one undocumented student at the college who is receiving aid.

Osgood said that if the federal government were to make money available to fund undocumented students, HMC might be able to admit more undocumented students.

“That may happen,” he said. “Things may move sufficiently forward ... that we reconsider these policies.”

Osgood added that changes in federal policy are not the only possible events that might prompt HMC to admit more undocumented students.

“We could have a successful alum who wanted to provide a certain amount of endowed funds for more international students that we would fund or specifically undocumented students,” Osgood said.

In the meantime, however, HMC and Scripps do not have plans to change their policies, the administrators said. CMC administrators would neither confirm nor deny that the school has any plans to change its policies.

Meanwhile, the admissions offices at Pitzer College and Pomona College do not classify undocumented applicants as international students.

At Pitzer, undocumented students are put in a separate category from international and domestic applicants and considered for a special scholarship, wrote Angel Perez, Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Pitzer, in an e-mail to TSL.

“Students have to be nominated by their high school counselor, have high academic achievement and embody the core values of Pitzer in order to be considered for the scholarship,” he wrote.

The scholarship covers all need-based expenses, including room and board, tuition and fees. There are currently four undocumented students at Pitzer, and they all receive financial aid, Perez wrote.

He wrote that applicants who obtain deferred action will be placed in this same pool of students and will be eligible for the scholarship.

Pomona does not distinguish undocumented students from domestic students when reviewing their application files, said Mary Booker, Director of Financial Aid at Pomona. Thus, undocumented students are considered for application on a need-blind basis and have the same chance at receiving financial aid from the college as any domestic applicant.

“We are not looking to determine student admissibility on whether they are documented or not. That does not play into Admissions’ or Financial Aid’s policies,” Booker said. “If a student is an admissible student, they will be admitted to the college.”

Maria Tucker, Director of the Draper Center for Community Partnerships at Pomona, told TSL for an article last week that Pomona has the most undocumented students of any of the 5Cs.