Last Updated:November 26 @ 05:35 pm

Mass. college offers illegal alien scholarship

By Shannon Young

BOSTON (AP) - A small private liberal arts college in western Massachusetts has announced the establishment of a scholarship fund dedicated to helping illegal immigrants get degrees.

The scholarship will provide more than $25,000 each year to help an illegal immigrant pay for the $43,000-plus tuition at Hampshire College in Amherst. At current funding levels, the endowment will help support one student's studies at the college every four years, said college spokeswoman Elaine Thomas.

A professor was inspired to create the fund following a student's senior project on the Development, Relief, Education for Alien Minors act, which would allow some illegal immigrants to achieve U.S. citizenship by getting college degrees or by serving in the military. The legislation has yet to pass in Congress.

Hampshire alumni, graduating students, parents and other donors have given more than $300,000 since the spring to fund the scholarship and an endowment to sustain it.

There are an estimated 65,000 illegal immigrants who graduate from American high schools each year. Of those, an estimated 5 to 10 percent apply for college.

No state or federal laws prohibit the admission of illegal immigrants into U.S. colleges, but schools have varying admission policies.

Many states treat illegal immigrants as international students, charging them hefty out-of-state tuition regardless of whether they were raised in the state.

Only California, New Mexico and Texas allow illegal immigrants to receive state financial aid, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Illinois has a privately-funded scholarship endowment for these students, according to the group. There are also some private scholarships that openly welcome illegal immigrant applicants and others get financial help from merit-based scholarships.

Margaret Cerullo, the sociology professor who spearheaded the scholarship, has called the barriers blocking illegal immigrants' access to a college education a "social injustice."

"For a lot of us, access to higher education is a deep principle," Cerullo said in a statement last month.

Thomas said Hampshire College hopes to grow the size of the endowment to be able to help moreimmigrants. She would not identify the student who has received the award for the school year beginning this fall, citing federal education privacy rules.

Justin Draeger, the president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, praised states, schools and scholarship funds that recognize this population of students didn't come to the country by choice. Most were illegally brought to the country as young children or infants.

"There are a lot of kids who are U.S. citizens who have barriers to higher education," he said. "These students have these barriers and more."

Both the University of California Berkeley and University of California Los Angeles have offered scholarships specifically for illegal immigrants.

Eva Millona, the executive director if the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Coalition, said this is the first instance where she has heard of a Massachusetts college or university offering a specific scholarship to illegal immigrants.

"We're thrilled to hear this and we commend them for this generous effort," she said.

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  1. daveevad1Comment by daveevad1
    August 24, 2012 @ 10:40 am

    Why does Texas allow state financial aid to illegally-present foreign nationals? (California is a lost cause and New Mexico may be as well).

    And why do tax-exempt private colleges retain their status when they subsidize illegally-present foreign nationals?

    As an absolute minimum, the tax exemption for contributions to such scholarship funds should be revoked. More to the point, the overall tax exempt status for Hampshire College, and all contributions thereto, should be revoked.

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    • pistol packing mamaComment by txgoatlady
      August 24, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

      It’s even worse than just receiving in-state tuition. They also qualify for certain types of financial aid. Rick Perry claims we all support these programs. He is wrong.

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  2. wedeyComment by wedey
    August 24, 2012 @ 10:41 am

    To me this is just disgusting. What about all those illegals who came here the right way, waited their turn in line and did all the right things. That must be a slap in the face to them. I have all the compassion in the world, but when I only have enough food to feed my family, my family comes first. That is the same with citizens. They come first.
    And it would all be different if our economy was good but it isn’t. We shouldn’t just pile on more debt. We need to start taking care of the legal citizens in this country rather than finding ways to help the world.

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  3. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    August 24, 2012 @ 11:11 am

    Just goes to show you that the Liberals value the children of illegitmacy more than our Own American born and bred legitimate offspring who represent the future of America which for Liberals is just one more liberal experimental manipulation of people’s and nation’s out comes which always end badly. Why do we allow such people to be put into positions of power?? They are powerless in work ethic, morality and ideology.

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  4. Amfer FergComment by Amfer Ferg
    August 24, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

    Every day there is a ‘story’ that tops the previous. I cannot believe what is happening to America (BY Americans and Aliens). I am beginning to feel similar to michelle o. ‘For the first time in my life, I am embarrassed and ashamed of my country’…(substitute embarrassed, ashamed with PROUD and you have her sentiment)

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