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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."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 14372

Reported Deaths: 693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds92024
Lauderdale69957
Madison68721
Scott62310
Neshoba56534
Jones52519
Forrest51137
DeSoto4936
Leake39512
Rankin3736
Holmes37324
Jackson30013
Copiah2854
Attala27715
Monroe25324
Leflore25030
Lincoln25022
Newton2504
Harrison2457
Lamar2275
Yazoo2233
Pearl River20731
Pike20211
Adams19015
Lowndes1828
Noxubee1696
Washington1636
Warren1587
Oktibbeha15010
Bolivar14911
Wayne1480
Jasper1483
Covington1411
Clarke13517
Smith13311
Kemper13110
Chickasaw12812
Lafayette1254
Lee1175
Carroll11410
Coahoma1133
Marion1129
Winston1051
Clay1043
Lawrence991
Simpson930
Hancock8711
Yalobusha855
Wilkinson859
Itawamba857
Grenada823
Montgomery811
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Union785
Marshall763
Jefferson Davis752
Tippah7111
Tate691
Panola643
Claiborne642
Calhoun614
Webster591
Amite561
Humphreys537
Tunica523
Walthall510
Perry492
Prentiss413
Jefferson400
Choctaw352
Stone300
Pontotoc283
Franklin272
Tishomingo260
Quitman250
Tallahatchie251
George201
Benton140
Alcorn141
Greene111
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16310

Reported Deaths: 590
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2085112
Jefferson167397
Montgomery144634
Marshall6609
Tuscaloosa63212
Lee52632
Franklin4986
Shelby47019
Tallapoosa41063
Butler39113
Chambers34024
Madison3154
Elmore3007
Baldwin2829
Walker2821
DeKalb2403
Etowah24011
Dallas2323
Coffee2191
Lowndes21610
Morgan2111
Sumter2106
Autauga1923
Houston1854
Bullock1763
Pike1730
Colbert1612
Calhoun1523
Marengo1506
Choctaw1487
Russell1480
Lauderdale1452
Hale1416
Wilcox1327
Barbour1301
Clarke1282
Randolph1247
Marion11711
St. Clair1081
Pickens964
Dale960
Talladega963
Chilton931
Greene914
Cullman880
Limestone860
Winston770
Covington751
Jackson742
Bibb711
Henry702
Macon672
Crenshaw662
Washington656
Blount531
Escambia483
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Perry360
Conecuh351
Coosa341
Monroe342
Cherokee332
Clay272
Lamar210
Cleburne131
Fayette130
Unassigned00
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