Alianza de los Amigos Fellowship Abstract Archive

Marianella Perez Marianella Perez '21

My research project focused on financial aid offices at private institutions across California and whether or not they provide financial resources and support for undocumented student populations. In addition my research also looked at the depth of knowledge that financial aid officers have when working with the undocumented student community. Through individual interviews over the phone, I asked a set of questions that honed in on the financial resources set for undocumented students. During this study, I gathered data from financial aid officers that will help me understand how much knowledge do they have on the undocumented student community. 

This study will help me locate who the point person is in that private institution for undocumented students and what that navigation may look like, whether that is physically or virtually. In gathering my data, my goal is to shine a light on the lack of resources provided to undocumented students and therefore show what resources are still needed. This study will lead to a research paper, oral presentation and most importantly a short video on the resources provided for undocumented students in private institutions. 

Through my research and trying to contact the different financial aid offices, I found it quite difficult to get in contact with them. Within the 50 schools that I contacted, only 15 out of 50 was I able to have any sort of communication. A majority of the colleges would not even speak to me because I wasn’t an enrolled student so they felt that speaking to me was not necessary. Another portion of the colleges would transfer me to any other office that would have a Latinx employee, even though I made it clear that I needed to speak to a financial aid officer only and that this issue did not pertain to any other office for my study. Due to the lack of communication, I was only able to have two interviews, each interview had extremely contrasting knowledge on the subject. 

The first college had a lack of knowledge of not only resources for undocumented students on their campus but of the general political climate on this issue in general. The second college not only gave me a long list of all the forms of support for undocumented students their campus provides but also could speak with ease on the political climate on this issue. While attempting to contact the rest of the colleges, I quickly found myself taking notes of all the transfers and the lack of communication happening, that there was a pattern and that it itself could count as valuable data. These patterns though also lead me to having to navigate the college’s websites more often in order for me to get a hold of the financial aid officers directly. My research project will consist of three parts, the interviews themselves, my limitations in contacting the colleges and my experiences within that as well as navigating the colleges websites.