Chicago med school still alone in admitting undocumented students
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.