CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — In an effort help young immigrants who are living in the country illegally earn a college degree, a New Hampshire university announced Thursday it is teaming up with two organizations to offer $20 million in scholarships.
Southern New Hampshire University, with support from The Shapiro Foundation and TheDream.US, said its program would reach 1,000 students over the next five years who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program would offer full scholarships to DACA students to pursue associate and bachelor’s degree programs through one of the university’s online programs.
“As an institution of higher education, we are in the business of hope. We have hundreds of thousands of young people who have known no country but the U.S., but that are denied the financial support that gives them access to higher education,” said Paul LeBlanc, SNHU’s president. “As a society, we can’t afford to squander their talent and drive.”
LeBlanc acknowledged there are universities and groups already offering DACA students assistance, including TheDream.US, which provides 3,000 DACA students scholarships at 75 partner colleges in 15 states. But many of these programs are geared toward top students to attend more expensive, traditional colleges.
The Dreamers “have families, and simply do not have the resources nor flexibility to adjust their lives to a traditional college calendar,” Don Graham, co-founder of TheDream.US, said in a statement. “And yet, they want nothing more than to get a college education so they can better support themselves, their families, and their communities.”
The announcement comes as the Obama-era DACA program that shielded from deportation hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the country by their parents is at risk. President Donald Trump announced he was ending DACA unless lawmakers come up with a solution by March.
The uncertainty has prompted some organizations to start searching for ways that the DACA scholarships could follow students out of the country if they were to be deported. In the case of the Southern New Hampshire program, LeBlanc said the program “could travel” with the students if they had to leave the U.S. so that it “wouldn’t be money down the drain.”
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