$2 million donation to help undocumented DPS students pay for college
POSTED: 03/20/2013 06:19:03 PM MDT
UPDATED: 03/21/2013 08:59:48 AM MDT
By Yesenia Robles
The Denver Post
An anonymous $2 million gift to the Denver Scholarship Foundation will provide aid to a group of students who are ineligible for federal assistance for college.
The gift will aid Denver Public Schools students who are undocumented immigrants but have received federal deferred-action status.
The foundation also changed some of its scholarship-application requirements for the same group of students.
The foundation typically requires students to fill out the FAFSA, or free application for federal student aid, as a way to demonstrate need. But undocumented students can't participate in the program and so could not meet the foundation's scholarship-application requirements.
Now, DPS students who receive deferred-action status under a program to grant temporary work permits to immigrants who were brought here as children will be able to skip the FAFSA requirement and prove, instead, that they qualify for free or reduced lunch, which is the district's measure of poverty.
The $2 million will be divided among all undocumented students who apply, so the size of the scholarship will depend on how many students apply.
The students may also receive other foundation scholarships, making up for the fact they can't receive federal aid, foundation officials said.
Iveth Vargas, 17, a junior at North High School who was submitting her application for deferred action Wednesday, and said the money will be immensely helpful.
"A lot of undocumented students want to do a lot with their lives," Vargas said. "We don't want to be here just to be here. We want to get an education so we can help."
It is unclear how many DPS students are undocumented and could qualify for the funding.
However, national data shows that 9,658 immigrants in Colorado had applied for deferred action status as of mid-March. Specific data about where in Colorado those people come from is not available.
This year, the state legislature passed ASSET, a bill that grants in-state tuition rates to any student who has been in Colorado schools for at least three years, regardless of immigration status. If it is signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the bill takes effect for the fall 2013 semester.
Most of the students who will qualify for the foundation's scholarship also will qualify for in-state tuition under ASSET.
Yesenia Robles: 303-954-1372,email@example.com/yeseniarobles