Paying for college can be hard, and it’s especially hard if you’re an undocumented student. However, things might be changing now that the University of California, Berkeley has announced a $1 million scholarship fund for highly academic students who also happen to be undocumented.
Nothing of this size has happened before. The Dreamers Fund will go to about 200 students from 20 different countries when it goes into effect early next year. Each $8,000 scholarship will be awarded to undocumented Berkeley students with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
In an interview with NPR, 21-year-old student Jesus Chavez talked about the situation many undocumented students find themselves in. Jesus moved to the country when he was three and America has been his home ever since. But because he doesn’t have the paperwork, he’s denied federal financial aid. Jesus is now a senior, but many undocumented students aren’t able to make it that far because of expenses.
Robert Birgeneau, a Chancellor at Berkeley, is sympathetic to students in Jesus’s situation and has been a big supporter. Aware that some undocumented students wind up homeless because of costs, he said, “[T]hese are astounding young people. We can’t afford to waste this kind of talent.”
Not everyone is so enthused with Berkeley’s announcement, though. Mark Krikorian, who is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said, “It’s outrageous….What it means is that this foundation is valuing illegal immigrant students above American or legal immigrant students who can’t afford the tuition at the UC system.”
While Krikorian is upset, Jesus said that the opportunity has changed his life, and more donors have also given Berkeley funds to increase their financial help for undocumented students. With California’s DREAM Act, soon undocumented students will be able to quality for state financial aid as well. What do you think about all this? Let us know in the comments below!
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