Arizona college imposes annual student fee to fund illegal immigrant scholarships

Prescott College in Arizona has decided to charge students a $30 annual fee to finance a scholarship fund for illegal immigrant students.

The fee was originally proposed by students and faculty from the Social Justice and Human Rights program, according to Fox News, and will automatically be added to each student’s $28,000 tuition bill starting next semester unless they take advantage of an opt-out provision.

[RELATED: Students vote to raise fees to fund scholarship for illegal immigrants]

“I am proud that our students take on the role of scholar activists,” school President John Flicker said in a statement, adding, “We're committed to broadening access to higher education for a diverse group of students and mobilize our resources towards social justice.”

The Freedom Education Fund, as the scholarship will be known, was conceived by graduate student Miriel Manning as a senior project, The Daily Courier reports, and quickly gained traction among students, resulting in a majority of them signing a petition asking Prescott to implement the idea.

“Prescott College offers an experiential, interdisciplinary education that teaches our students how to make the change they want to see in the world,” observed Provost Paul Burkhardt. “We are very proud of the way one student found a cause they cared about and rallied support from their fellow-students to help someone in need.”

“It's a challenging conversation sometimes with students,” Manning admitted, but in this case, she told the Phoenix New Times, “the student reaction to the petition was overwhelmingly supportive.”

Prescott College is a private institution, and does not receive either state or federal funding, but some experts warn that the school may yet face pushback over the new fee and scholarship, even as it seeks to bolster the fund through private donations.

[RELATED: Students raise money for illegal immigrant scholarship]

“At a time when student loan debt is over $1 trillion it is irresponsible for Prescott College to offer this privilege at the expense of other students,” Andrew Kloster, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal & Judicial Studies, told Fox News. “While the dollar amount seems small per student, the fee does send a message to potential donors to Prescott College that the administration is less concerned with sound financial management than it is with making a political statement.”

“It is beyond absurd that this college is going to force all the students to subsidize the education of a student who is in the country illegally,” added Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies. “It’s a shame these students and faculty don’t have the same drive to help some of their fellow citizens who can’t afford college and who are forced to compete with illegal workers for job opportunities.”

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