Estefanny Perez graduated from high school last year and applied to several different colleges in the Triangle. Among others, she was accepted to Meredith College on a $16,000 scholarship, but she would still have had to take out a $20,000 loan to cover tuition and living expenses.
"I thought about private schools because they give more scholarships than public, but it was still too much," Perez says. "And Wake Tech is still out-of-state tuition too, and it would have been too much for me to afford." Perez took a year off school to work and save money, hoping to eventually save enough to pay for classes at Wake Tech.
But Perez and students like her—who came to the United States before the age of sixteen but live in one of sixteen states, including North Carolina, that deny undocumented immigrant students in-state tuition or access to state universities—now have another option.
A new scholarship will allow high-achieving immigrant students to apply to either Eastern Connecticut State University or at Delaware State University, with a scholarship for up to $80,000 over four years, or $20,000 a year. The scholarships, offered by the national scholarship funding organization TheDream.US, will go to five hundred students for the 2016–2017 school year.
Most of these students, who are protected from deportation thanks to the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or Temporary Protected Status policies, are expected to come from North Carolina and Georgia; these states have the highest numbers of undocumented young people locked out of higher education in the country.
"It's a waste of talent, of time for teachers who spend it working on these students and making sure they got ready to go to college, and of their potential," says Gaby Pacheco, program director for TheDream.US. "These students are determined, and they want to have an opportunity to go to school. And we know that, after they go to school, they'll be able to provide more in taxes, they will have better jobs and be able to provide for themselves, their families, and just really contribute to their communities in a different way."
Students can apply for the scholarship by June 9 by visiting thedream.us/opportunityscholarship.