New scholarship fund implemented for ‘dreamers’ after tuition increase ruling

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Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat Protesters participate in chants and hold up signs in front of Old Main during the pro-DACA protest on Sept. 5, 2017.

Chicanos Por La Causa, a nonprofit community development organization, announced a new scholarship initiative on April 27 after the Arizona Supreme Court denied in-state tuition for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students last year.

The scholarship, Keep the Dream Alive, is a partnership with the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University, along with Pima Community College and Maricopa Community Colleges to help "dreamers" pay for tuition.

Arizona holds the sixth largest population of DACA recipients, according to Genesis Denisse Egurrola, former vice president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. 

In April 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled unanimously  that DACA recipients no longer qualified for in-state tuition.

“Before the ruling on tuition increase, approximately 2,000 DACA students were enrolled in Arizona universities and community colleges,” Egurrola said. “After the ruling, institutions saw a decline in enrollment of about 40 percent.”

When launching the Keep The Dream Alive scholarship fund, Chicanos Por La Causa focused on students who are enrolled in a college or university and were paying in-state tuition. 

Then they suddenly faced an increase of about $6,000 more per year, Donor Relations Manager for Chicanos Por La Causa Veronica Carrillo said.

RELATED: Regents approve tuition increases, face student protesters on campus

“These are hardworking, motivated students who want to get a degree, create jobs, contribute to the economy, support their families, and we’re denying them that opportunity,” Carrillo said.

Director of Public Information for Sunnyside Unified School District and member of the Hispanic Community Council at the University of Arizona Victor Mercado said these students did what they needed to do.

“These are undocumented students who have gone to school, done really well and done everything that we’ve asked them to do,” Mercado said. “At the end, it’s almost like the rug is pulled from underneath them because they don’t have a lot of options in terms of paying for school.”

Arizona DACA students cannot benefit from federal student aid and state grants. Instead, they must turn to private scholarships, Egurrola said.

“It’s very discouraging,” Mercado said. “It is no fault of their own how they arrived in this country, it’s very disappointing when there is yet another obstacle in front of them.”

Chicanos Por La Causa is not accepting applications for the scholarship. Instead, the collected funds are divided among all partner institutions proportionally then distributed to the students.

RELATED: A guide to scholarships

Donors can contribute to the general fund at keepthedream.cplc.org, or they can donate to an individual school.

Chicanos Por La Causa say they believe it was important to partner with Arizona’s universities and colleges for this initiative because “it made sense to join forces and show solidarity,” Carrillo said, “to say that all of these partners stand for this cause and are taking action.”


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