A motivated, hardworking high school senior with plans to attend college next fall, Giancarlo Tejeda is like many other high school seniors in Florida. Having excelled in school, Tejada has applied and been offered admission to colleges including the University of Florida, Florida International University and New York University. And while his future appears to be full of opportunities, in reality, his path to getting there remains uncertain.
According to reports from the Miami Herald and Rise: MiamiNews, Giancarlo and his family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia over a decade ago. Despite his parent’s efforts to achieve permanent residency the obstacles that currently exist for families like the Tejadas have prevented them from securing legal status.
As a result, Giancarlo’s non-resident status means he cannot apply for federal and state aid, and his opportunities for scholarships are limited. Knowing that his college future would be dependent on receiving financial aid, his AP Literature teacher, Neyada Borges, helped launch a “GoFundMe” fundraising account to raise money for his education.
With the help of Borges, his school, classmates and members of the community, Tejada has raised about $24,000 to attend college in the fall. And during a College Signing Day event at his Miami school last week, Giancarlo proudly wore a bright orange and blue University of Florida t-shirt while accepting his offer to become a “Gator” next fall. Thanks to the funds raised on his behalf and House Bill 851, which last year qualified undocumented students for in-state tuition, Giancarlo currently has enough money to pay for his first year of college.
Giancarlos’ story has not only inspired members of his school and community, it’s helped to put a spotlight on the many challenges that thousands of undocumented students in Florida face to access college.
For more on Giancarlo’s story, click here and here for reports by the Miami Herald and Rise: MiamiNews. To learn more about in-state tuition for undocumented students in Florida, check out the following FAQs from the Southern Poverty Law Center/Florida Immigrant Coalition and the Florida Department of Education. To support Giancarlo, click here for his “College Dreams” GoFundMe site.