Dreamers Look to College Despite DACA Challenges
TheDream.us, the largest scholarship fund in the U.S. for DACA students, has provided full funding for up to 1,000 students.
As uncertainty swirls around the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program’s future, some Dreamers keep dreaming about a college education and finding funding.
These worries stem from President Trump’s September 2017 announcement to end the DACA program and the subsequent March 5 deadline for Congress to find an alternative. In the ensuing months, two district courts ruled the administration had to continue accepting DACA renewal applications. However, on March 5, a federal judge dismissed those rulings in favor of the president’s decision to end the program.
Prospective Students Persevere
Dreamers have faced challenges of not having legal permanent status or a road to U.S. citizenship from their DACA designation. This makes them ineligible for federal student aid, leaving them to fund their own education, obtain scholarships, or get money through donors.
Dreamers are a group that seeks higher education. According to 2017 data, one-third of DACA holders are either in college or have some college education.
One option for Dreamers has been through TheDream.us, the largest scholarship fund in the nation for DACA students. Launched in 2013, it has provided full funding for 800 to 1,000 students at its 75 partner colleges across 14 states. This includes Arizona State, the City University of New York, and Colorado State University.
Since its launch, TheDream.us has doled out $103 million to students. Its funding comes from donors and includes some high-profile benefactors such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife (a January donation of $33 million), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Coca-Cola Foundation, and Pierre and Pam Omidyar.
Many more Dreamers have sought college funding from TheDream.us this year.
"In the last few months, we have seen a sharp uptick in the number of applications for our college scholarships. It's even surprised me," Candy Marshall, TheDream.us president, said to CNN.
This encompasses 11,655 applications started, with almost 4,000 completed and sent in – a record number, Marshall noted.
Other Funding Options for Dreamers
Aside from TheDream.us, other funding opportunities exist for Dreamers. At least 17 states allow non-native students to attend schools by paying in-state tuition, such as California for AB 540 students, according to Scholarship.org.
Opportunities also exist through organizations such as Golden Door Scholars, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). For MALDEF, it requires students to show commitment through their careers to advancing Latino civil rights.
It is important for students to know their status and meet eligibility requirements when applying for these scholarships. They should also review immigration laws for their specific state, its policies, and other financial aid options.