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Dixie State rescinds scholarship from high school graduate with no U.S. citizenship

Posted at 10:37 PM, Jun 10, 2014

ST GEORGE -- a Southern Utah student is looking for other ways to pay for college after Dixie State University rescinded on its offer of a full-ride scholarship.

Roberto Jardon said he’s never let his family’s undocumented status hold him back. His parents emigrated from Mexico to Enterprise when he was 6 years old. He’s never known anything different.

“It was always you’re here and you’re in the place that you are because my parents made that brave decision to come to a foreign country,” Jardon said. “I always knew, well, I don’t have documents, but somebody’s out there doing it somehow, so I’m going to figure out a way, just like they are.”

That driven attitude pushed him to graduate from Enterprise High School with honors and a 3.9 GPA. His high academic record attracted the attention of nearby Dixie State.

The university offered him a Chancellor Scholarship, full-ride tuition. Then, discovering he wasn’t a citizen, the university took it back.

“I’m sorry to inform you that you can’t receive your Chancellor Scholarship because you don’t have legal status,” Jardon said, recalling the email he’d received from a financial aid councilor. “She tried to make sure I knew this wasn’t the end -- there’s still other options for me.”

A university spokesman said school officials couldn’t comment specifically on Jardon’s situation because of federal privacy laws. But say those state funded scholarships are governed by very specific rules that they in turn are required to follow.

“In regards to financial aid,” said DSU public relations director Steve Johnson. “Students must be either a resident of the United States or a citizen of the United States.”

Jardon does have deferred action status under President Obama’s 2012 executive order granting special consideration for children of undocumented immigrants. He said he plans to apply for citizenship, but it’s a long expensive process.

The university has helped him find a work study program to help pay for school, and friends have set up an online fund so Jardon can still attend classes at DSU this fall.

Jose Enriquez, executive director with the Latino advocacy group Latinos in Action, said it’s an unfortunate situation to have gotten Jardon’s hopes up, and it happens too often.

“There are so many students who are incredible academic students who are ready for college but we don’t really think about their status,” Enriquez said. “We just presume they all have it.”

Enriquez said there should be more alternatives available for people who fall into that category, struggling to succeed despite the decisions of their parents. Conservative political group the Sutherland Institute agrees.

Spokesman David Buer said denying children a chance to succeed comes down more as a punishment than an incentive.

“The reward is that actually, because of something your parents did, when you were 6, you can’t have this,” Buer said. “It needs to be addressed and congress needs to take action.”

Jardon holds no hard feelings for not being able to receive the Chancellor Scholarship and said even without it, he’s committed to achieving his dreams.

“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do yet,” Jardon said. “And that’s OK. I’m only 18. The sky’s the limit right now.

Supporters have already raised close to $800 through an online college fund, more information can be found here: http://www.gofundme.com/9ubdp0