Latest News

This Undocumented, Standout Student Faces Another Challenge: Paying for College

Edwin Ordoñez was 9 years old when he and his father swam across the Rio Grande and slipped into this country, the final leg of a long and risky journey from their native El Salvador.

Edwin spoke no English, but he was smart, determined and focused on his education. Nine years after arriving in the United States, he is a standout student poised to graduate as valedictorian of the District’s Bell Multicultural High School.

But his impending graduation — and his quest for higher education and a better life — opened another grueling journey in the past six months. Wanting badly to go to college, he applied to 25 schools, including six in the Ivy League, but those applications came with a serious caveat: He didn’t know whether he’d be able to go, even if accepted. Like many families, his can’t afford much tuition, but unlike most other students, he’s not eligible for federal loans or grants because of his immigration status.