Equity & Diversity

New $25 Million Scholarship Fund for Undocumented Students

By Lesli A. Maxwell — February 04, 2014 2 min read
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A new $25 million college scholarship fund for undocumented high school graduates brought to the United States as children was launched Monday by Donald Graham, a former owner of The Washington Post.

Graham teamed up with Henry R. Muñoz III, one of the Democratic Party’s top fundraisers, and Carlos Gutierrez, who was commerce secretary under George W. Bush, to raise the funds to create TheDream.US., a fund that will provide college scholarships to low-income, undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for Pell Grants or other sources of federal financial aid.

The fund expects to provide scholarships for some 2,000 undocumented students—known as DREAMers—over the next decade.

Potential recipients have to have graduated from a U.S. high school with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 (or earned a GED with a score equivalent to 2.5 or higher) and demonstrate financial need. Applicants must also qualify for the Obama administration’s deferred action program, which provides eligible undocumented youth with temporary work authorization and relief from deportation.

Scholarship recipients will have to attend one of a dozen higher education institutions that have agreed to partner with TheDream.US. They are: The Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, and Kingsborough Community College in New York; Miami-Dade College in Florida; Trinity Washington University in the District of Columbia; El Paso Community College, South Texas College, the University of Texas-Pan American, and the University of Texas at El Paso; Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach; and Mount Washington College, a national online college.

In recent years, a growing number of states have passed legislation to lower tuition rates for their public colleges and universities for high school graduates who lack legal immigration status, though providing the same students access to state-supported financial aid has proven a tougher fight in some places. Some private institutions also provide financial aid to undocumented students, but advocates have argued that the inability to access federal financial aid—especially Pell Grants—remains one of the biggest barriers to higher education for DREAMers, given that most of them come from low-income families.

Democratic lawmakers in Congress last month introduced legislation that seeks to entice more states to pass their own DREAM Acts. And last week, in the most significant shift yet among Republicans in the House, GOP leaders announced that they would support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth “who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.