Chicago med school still alone in ad­mit­ting un­doc­u­mented stu­dents

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Kris­ten Schorsch, Crain’s Chicago Busi­ness

Seven un­doc­u­mented med­i­cal stu­dents started classes on Aug. 4 at Loy­ola Univer­sity Chicago, but the school still is the only one in the state—and pos­si­bly the coun­try—to in­ten­tion­ally en­roll such stu­dents.

Statewide, no other med­i­cal or den­tal school pub­licly has em­braced stu­dents who came to the U.S. il­le­gally as chil­dren but have spent most of their lives in Illi­nois.

“I am a lit­tle sur­prised that we’re not hear­ing more in­ter­est within the state,” said Mark Kuczewski, chair­man of Loy­ola’s de­part­ment of med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion. Once the state es­tab­lished a tuition loan pro­gram, “It’s hard to see what the down­side would be. … We are in the busi­ness of tak­ing the best and the bright­est that we can find to make the best physi­cians we can to serve our com­mu­ni­ties.”

Other schools are more re­luc­tant. Although the so-called “Dream­ers” can work and pay for school through fed­eral and state ini­tia­tives for now, there’s no guar­an­tee their le­gal sta­tus will last, po­ten­tially leav­ing them with un­af­ford­able bills or fac­ing de­por­ta­tion. Hos­pi­tal res­i­dency train­ing pro­grams, a re­quire­ment for li­censed physi­cians, are funded in part with tax­payer money, a pos­si­ble light­ning rod for crit­ics.

Loy­ola an­nounced in 2013 that it planned to ad­mit un­doc­u­mented stu­dents granted De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, or DACA. The sta­tus, which the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion cre­ated in 2012, defers de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings against un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents who are no older than 30 and came to the U.S. when they were younger than 16, among other guide­lines.

Another hur­dle was how the stu­dents would cover $200,000 for four years of tuition and fees when they aren’t el­i­gi­ble for fed­eral aid. The Illi­nois Fi­nance Au­thor­ity, an in­de­pen­dent state agency, stepped in, is­su­ing $390,000 in in­ter­est­free loans to cover the first year of school for the seven Loy­ola stu­dents. In ex­change, they must work in un­der­served ar­eas in the state af­ter they fin­ish their train­ing.

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