Undocumented students make case for access to state college financial aid

HARTFORD -- The legislature's education committee heard testimony from proponents of a bill designed to allow undocumented students access to institutional financial aid Tuesday.

"This bill would not in any way make them eligible for any category of financial aid especially Federal aid for which they are not eligible, but for this one limited category, they should be open to these students because they are paying tuition and paying fees," said State Sen. Martin Looney, a democratic sponsor of the bill.

Undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition at state colleges and universities but are not eligible for institutional aid, a source of financial aid made up, primarily, from tuition and fees. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial assistance.

"It's pretty tough because it's not like you can just pay tuition," described Brandon Pinto, an undocumented student. "There's books, there's gas, car insurance, phone bill. Other stuff, maybe you have to help out in the family."

There have been prior movements to get similar measures passed but past attempts have failed. No word on a timeline for when, or if, a vote would happen this year.

"Failure is not an option for me," said Pinto. "I want to succeed. I want to do big things. I don't have small dreams. I want to take up engineering, business, be innovative."