Despite DACA uncertainty, Dreamers still determined to go to college

Even though the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remains uncertain, it has not deterred you...

Posted: Mar 4, 2018 6:21 PM

Even though the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remains uncertain, it has not deterred young Dreamers from pursuing scholarships to colleges in the United States.

"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," said Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.US, a nationwide scholarship fund that helps DACA status immigrants attend one of 75 colleges in 15 states.

Marshall said Dreamers with DACA protection seem more resolved than ever to pursue a college education.

"We feared this climate of uncertainty might have a chilling effect, but it's been the opposite," she said.

DACA has enabled nearly 689,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to come out from the shadows and openly attend school, get work permits and driver's licenses without the fear of being deported.

President Trump announced the end of the DACA program last fall, giving Congress a March 5 deadline to come up with an alternate solution. But that deadline became moot after two separate district courts ruled that the administration must keep accepting renewal applications for the program, effectively putting the termination temporarily on hold.

Because DACA doesn't give Dreamers legal permanent status, or a path to citizenship, they aren't eligible for federal student aid. Therefore, many either self-fund their educations or rely on private donors and scholarships.

TheDream.US is the largest scholarship fund of its kind in the nation. It fully funds the college education of 800 to 1,000 DACA scholars each year.

TheDream.US said 11,655 applications have been started for the 2018-2019 academic year and nearly 4,000 have been completed and submitted.

"This is a record number," said Marshall.

She said some applications don't get fully completed because applicants realize the participating schools are too far away to commute to or they don't qualify for in-state tuition.

Related: Jeff Bezos is helping send 1,000 Dreamers to college

Amazon founder Jezz Bezos and his wife MacKenzie donated $33 million to the fund in January. Other notable donors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Pierre and Pam Omidyar, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Coca-Cola Foundation.

Since it first launched in 2013, the organization has given out $103 million in scholarships to Dreamers who attend its partner colleges, including Arizona State University, The City University of New York, Colorado State University, and Phoenix College.

Related: Who is covered by DACA? Students, teachers, caregivers and more

Southern New Hampshire University recently partnered with TheDream.US to launch a $20 million fund that will grant scholarships to 1,000 DACA recipients nationwide over the next five years.

The program, which offers both associate and bachelor's degrees, enables students to do much of their course and project work online and offers personalized coaching, advising, and other resources.

CNNMoney spoke with the first recipient of Southern New Hampshire's scholarship.

"I've always wanted to go to college. I want to become a nurse and take care of children," said the 17-year-old high school senior, who asked CNNMoney to remain anonymous "I babysit for two families and I love kids."

She hopes to pursue an associate's degree first and then a bachelor's degree in nursing.

Her parents brought her to America from Brazil when she was three years old and they remain undocumented. "The main reason my parents brought me to America was to give me a better life. If I have to work 10 times harder to prove that I earned this scholarship, I will," she said.

However, she said she worries about her ability to remain in the U.S. after her DACA status expires in August. If the court ruling stays in place until then, she might be able to renew her status for another two years.

Related: As DACA debate continues, these Dreamers are saving lives

"Dreamers are being used as a political football. But we are ready to place our bet on these Dreamers and invest in their future," said Paul LeBlanc, president of the private, non-profit university based in Manchester, New Hampshire.

LeBlanc said the online learning model is particularly well-suited for Dreamers, many of whom have to work full-time to make ends' meet or take care of parents and siblings. The university currently has about 100,000 students enrolled, with most in full online programs.

In the event a student is unable to remain in the country, LeBlanc said the university would help the student continue the program from wherever they are located.

"As an institution of higher education, we are in the business of hope. We have hundreds of thousands of [these] young people who have known no country, but the U.S.," said LeBlanc. "Among them might be the next brilliant scientist, general, community leader, inventor, or entrepreneur. We must give them the tools to realize their potential. We cannot squander this talent."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 445047

Reported Deaths: 5955
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin924911470
Ramsey39703735
Dakota32788331
Anoka30811360
Washington20004225
Stearns17775185
St. Louis13546240
Scott1189996
Wright11548102
Olmsted1035775
Sherburne815765
Carver691436
Clay648478
Rice600166
Kandiyohi552871
Blue Earth538033
Crow Wing479673
Otter Tail453464
Chisago449732
Benton416785
Winona386246
Douglas372466
Nobles366746
Mower362328
Goodhue343657
Polk327756
McLeod323144
Morrison310043
Beltrami308746
Lyon299835
Itasca282643
Becker281738
Isanti281141
Carlton278143
Steele27119
Pine265113
Freeborn241320
Todd230929
Nicollet223336
Brown213734
Mille Lacs212845
Le Sueur208515
Cass206123
Meeker198533
Waseca188816
Martin169126
Wabasha16883
Roseau165316
Hubbard148338
Redwood139227
Renville136539
Houston135313
Dodge13304
Chippewa130832
Cottonwood126518
Fillmore12215
Wadena119416
Rock109512
Sibley10797
Aitkin107133
Watonwan10618
Faribault104615
Pennington97715
Kanabec97218
Pipestone93823
Yellow Medicine93314
Murray8655
Jackson85010
Swift83018
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6978
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65616
Lake62915
Wilkin6229
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Lincoln4821
Big Stone4543
Unassigned43468
Grant4257
Norman4228
Mahnomen4087
Kittson37019
Red Lake3164
Traverse2473
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Cook1130

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Cases: 303065

Reported Deaths: 4267
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45335447
Linn17673274
Scott15356163
Black Hawk13648236
Woodbury12945175
Johnson1202149
Dubuque11300149
Pottawattamie8934112
Dallas881171
Story863434
Webster467471
Cerro Gordo462968
Sioux453356
Clinton448361
Warren437538
Marshall425561
Buena Vista391529
Muscatine386177
Des Moines380641
Plymouth348868
Wapello340898
Jasper319658
Lee313530
Marion301752
Jones269649
Henry263230
Carroll253034
Bremer242048
Crawford228122
Boone216217
Washington214231
Benton208544
Jackson190831
Mahaska190736
Tama185657
Dickinson184226
Delaware172236
Kossuth170543
Clay166019
Wright162724
Fayette159522
Buchanan158023
Hamilton157829
Winneshiek154819
Harrison154462
Hardin153929
Cedar151419
Clayton150748
Butler146424
Page143715
Cherokee138127
Floyd137936
Mills136016
Lyon133632
Poweshiek132324
Hancock128824
Allamakee126827
Iowa122822
Calhoun12209
Grundy120026
Jefferson119524
Madison11869
Winnebago118229
Mitchell115634
Louisa114130
Cass112541
Chickasaw110512
Emmet110231
Sac110215
Appanoose109638
Union108122
Humboldt104219
Guthrie102224
Shelby101326
Franklin101218
Unassigned9210
Palo Alto9019
Keokuk84325
Montgomery84022
Howard82519
Monroe80518
Clarke7817
Pocahontas77211
Ida73830
Greene6887
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Adair68620
Lucas6468
Osceola6349
Monona63316
Worth5983
Taylor5919
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Van Buren49412
Decatur4784
Ringgold4269
Wayne41421
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