Hampshire College Launches Financial Aid Fund for Undocumented Immigrants
Hampshire College, a private liberal arts college in Amherst, has created a financial aid endowment specifically for students who are in the country illegally, an unusually targeted response to the divisive issue of whether undocumented immigrants should receive college assistance.
The school, known for its progressive bent and alternative approach, began soliciting donations for the fund from alumni, parents, and students earlier this year and has so far raised more than $300,000. This fall, the fund will provide $25,000 to one student, and the college hopes it will become a consistent source of support for undocumented students, who are ineligible for federal grants and loans. Without assistance, many students here illegally find the price of attending college prohibitive.
“This scholarship was established with gifts from private donors who want to support students who were brought to this country as babies or young children, who have attended US schools, who feel this is their home, and who wish to continue their educations,” Elaine Thomas, a spokeswoman for the college, said Thursday.
While many private colleges and universities provide financial aid to students without legal status, higher education specialists said they had not heard of a school raising money specifically for undocumented students.
From a school with a reputation for activism, the move delivered a clear political message amid the sharp national debate about immigration policy and the fate of undocumented students who came here as children.
Immigrant advocates hailed the move for giving such immigrant students a better chance to attend college and for making a statement that they deserve the same financial assistance citizens receive.