ST. GEORGE – Some Enterprise residents are coming to the aid of a student who was awarded a full scholarship to Dixie State University, only to have it rescinded when his lack of U.S. citizenship, and deferred immigration status, came to the attention of university personnel.
Roberto Jarond graduated from Enterprise High School this year with a grade point average of 3.91. He proceeded to apply to various schools, and was awarded a chancellor scholarship by Dixie State – a scholarship for a full four years of tuition payment. However, when officials learned of his citizenship status the scholarship was rescinded.
Jarond came from Mexico to Newcastle at the age of 6 with his family. Jarond, who is not an American citizen, is under deferred status – status granted by a memorandum authored by the Obama Administration on June 15, 2012.
Deferred status was implemented by then Secretary of the Department Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. It directs U.S Customs and Border Patrol, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement to practice prosecutorial discretion towards some individuals who immigrated illegally to the United States as children.
A grant of deferred removal action does not confer lawful immigration status, alter an individual’s existing immigration status, or provide a path to citizenship. It does provide a kind of safe harbor for people like Jarond.
Accordingly, Jarond lives in the U.S. and is pursuing his life’s goals as might any other teenager.
“I never applied for the scholarship,” Jarond said. “The school awarded it to me automatically because of my grade point average.”
Jarond said that he went down to Dixie State University to complete the paperwork for the scholarship as well as the rest of the financing he would need for things like textbooks, and was then informed by the representative for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, that he was not eligible to receive government financial aid due to his citizenship status. Jarond asked if his status would affect his chancellor scholarship as well. Jarond was told it shouldn’t.
“I figured I better verify that,” Jarond said. “I proceeded to email Sara Huggins, a financial aid advisor at Dixie to confirm that my citizenship status did not affect the awarded chancellor scholarship.”
In an email Huggins responded: “Your citizenship status will not allow us to give you that Chancellor Scholarship you received. In order to receive state funds, you must be a citizen.”
Jarond said he was confused as to why he was awarded the scholarship in the first place. He stated that he filled out the application for Dixie State University honestly, and that it did ask him about his citizenship status.
J.D. Robertson, DSU’s executive director for financial aid and scholarship, said he could not speak to specifics about students due to FERPA regulations regarding student privacy. Robertson did say that the Chancellor Scholarship is an automated award given based on the information submitted at the time of enrollment.
“The state has a policy, because it follows the same guidelines as the federal aid programs. A student must be a citizen or have legal status in the United States to be eligible for those funds.” Robertson said.
Friends of Jarond who share in his disappointment are rallying to help him fund his education, and university officials are offering him what they are able to do to help him via internship opportunities.
ShaRee Hirschi a friend of Jarond said: “I am confused by the entire situation. The last week of school the university presented Roberto Jarond a certificate saying they were awarding him the scholarship. Even though at that time, they had already told Roberto he would not be getting it.”
Robertson said he did not know why that happened, other than the certificates are sent out to the schools at the end of April.
Jarond said he is hoping to call attention to a problem that he feels needs to be addressed. So that no one else in his circumstance applies for school, gets awarded a scholarship, only to have it taken away because the automated system overlooked something.
“I have no hard feelings towards Dixie State, they are doing what they think is best in this situation,” Jarond said. “I don’t think they could change anything even if they wanted to. I am very grateful they offered an internship to help me pay for school.”
Robertson also said as long as any student has the right paperwork, even international students, they can work as employees on Dixie State campus. He said that is one way the university can help students out.
“We are one of the few states that give a price break to a student who has attended high school for three consecutive years,” Robertson said. “Once they graduate from a Utah high school, even if they are not a legal citizen of the United States, or Utah, we do give them in-state tuition.”
Hirschi, as well as other supporters of Jarond, said they are trying to do their part to help as well.
“He earned those scholarships, it’s not like he was some screwed up kid who now suddenly wants to go to college. I am just trying to help him get what he earned, get him back to where he should be if he had legal status,” Hirschi said.
Hirschi has started a fundraiser for Jarond to assist in paying for the schooling through Gofundme.com.
Jarond College Education Fundraiser
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