It’s an exciting rite of passage for a high-school student, a sure sign that college is drawing near; registration for taking your ACT test. Tonight our daughter Morgan, signed in to the web site to register and reserve her spot at a testing site later this spring. It’s a simple process, but a vital step towards moving on to secondary education.
A few minutes into the process she called out to me, “Dad, what’s my social security number?” I was slightly annoyed, I would have to get-up from the show I was half-watching, pull the file and write down her SSN. After a second more of thought, I was practically horrified. Why does ACT need my daughter’s SSN just so she can take her college entrance test? The application form said that “this will assure that your scores are only attributed to you.”
For us this was a slight disruption, had Morgan decided to not give her SSN she would have been directed to a couple extra pages to provide definitive proof of her identity. For many youth without a Social Security Number, questions like these create a canyon that separates them from college dreams. Nine magic numbers, ascribed by the state to millions through no action of their own; nine magic numbers also denied to millions because of no choice of their own. Power Numbers; many students can’t get them, their parents brought them here years ago to give them a better life – now that hope that appears hallow.
Morgan realizes her accident of birth provides her with access to a future that appears out of reach to some of her friends. These are friends with whom she shares school, sports, activities – yet cannot they cannot easily share their dreams for the future. To get into college without a SSN is not impossible, but the canyons are huge; FAFSA, with Pell Grants, Guaranteed Student Loans and State Aid are all presently off limits. Some colleges won’t accept students without the Power Numbers and then the question constantly hanging over their head is, “…and what will I DO once I graduate?” It is almost impossible to work without the magic-nine.
Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network is helping parents and students learn how to navigate the educational system whether or not you have the Power Numbers. On the other side, we are also working with elected representatives to get these canyons made smaller, and even bridged completely.
Can the Dream Act be revived? Can Minnesota choose to offer State Aid separate from the FAFSA process? Will more colleges and universities become “Dream Schools”? These are all hopes we have for 2012.
The Dreams of our youth are waiting to be realized, will you help MIFN make these dreams come true.