Student turns to Internet to raise money for college tuition due to Indiana law

Karla Fernandez
A local honor roll student with plans to go to Ball State is running into a big obstacle to furthering her education.

She's a familiar face on BDTV, the student-run news channel at Ben Davis High School.

With just weeks to go before graduation, senior class president Karla Fernandez has become the face of something much bigger.

"I want equality for people like me," said Davis.

Karla is talking about students who are in this country illegally through no fault of their own.

That's Karla's story. She came to Indiana at three years old with her parents from Mexico.

Because of that and a state law passed in 2011, Karla is required to pay out-of-state tuition, even though she's lived in Indiana most of her life.

"We didn't do this on our own. We were brought here and now we we're raised here and this is our country. I mean, this is my country," said Karla, smiling.

"This is what I know and what I have known and there's no other thing out there for me," she added.

Except a $30,000 out-of-state tuition bill, if this honor student with a 4.2 GPA wants to go to the school of her dreams.

"I know rules are rules, but these are the rules that are holding students back from being able to get that education that they need to succeed and to help out the community," said Karla.

"I want to go to Ball State. I want to get an education," she added.

Not willing to defer her college dreams, Karla has turned to social media, raising the money for her tuition on Go Fund Me.

"They're investing in my education," said Karla of the more than 150 donors, most of them strangers, who've donated money, some as little as $5 , some as great as $2,000 to help.

So far, Karla's raised almost $15,000.

"She's not taking no for answer. She's been very clever in doing what she's done," said Dennis Goins, Karla's television instructor at Ben Davis High School.

"I'm not just stuck in why me or why this," said Karla of her situation.

Instead, this 18-year-old honor students is trying to find a way.

"I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna make this happen," said Karla, who's striving for a better way of life through higher education, so she can someday find her version of the American Dream, whatever that looks like.

If she raises enough money, Karla plans to double major in telecommunications and international business at Ball State in the fall.