undocumented students

18 in the Bay

Aug 24, 2015
Jiro Bevis for Matter

Turning 18 is a big deal. You can rent an apartment, you can get a tattoo, you can vote. Perhaps most importantly, you're legally recognized as an adult.

You might remember that moment yourself, but almost everything else about being that age is changing fast, even in the past few years. So what’s it actually like to be 18 right now?

As the summer comes to a close, young adults are saying goodbye to their hometowns, families, and friends as they move on to higher education. But for those who are undocumented, the path to college is much more complicated, a process that many take for granted.

In most parts of the country, students without legal status aren’t eligible for financial aid or scholarships. There is also a lack of guidance from parents, because most students are the first generation to attend an American university. Then there is the constant fear of being deported.

Twenty-three-year-old Alejandro Jimenez is an honors student at the University of California, Berkeley. He’s scheduled to graduate in May. “And it’s been worth it,” he says. “It’s been tough, but nothing we’re doing or we’re having is easy.”