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University of California, Berkeley Receives $1 Million for Scholarships for Undocumented Students



By Catherine Groux
Posted December 13, 2012 10:00 AM

The University of California, Berkeley received $1 million for a new scholarship fund.
The University of California, Berkeley received $1 million for a new scholarship fund.
Earlier this week, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund announced that it will give the University of California, Berkeley $1 million to be put toward scholarships for undocumented students, a press release states. In doing so, the fund provided the largest single scholarship donation for undocumented students in the nation.

The scholarships will be available beginning in the fall of 2013, and are designed to "level the playing field" for undocumented students. Currently, under the California Dream Act, these individuals can receive private scholarships, such as those provided by the Haas, Jr. Fund, but cannot earn federal financial aid through Pell Grants, federal loans or work-study positions.

Currently, about 200 undocumented immigrants attend the University of California, Berkeley, and the average family income of these individuals is only about $24,000. In the eyes of officials from the school and the Haas, Jr. Fund, this makes the need for these types of scholarships greater than ever.

"These motivated, hardworking and inspiring students are an asset to our state and our country," said Ira S. Hirschfield, president of the Haas, Jr. Fund. "We are proud to partner with UC Berkeley. Now that it's legal to do so in California, we encourage other foundations and private donors to consider providing funding to help undocumented students achieve their potential."

University students are also grateful for the funds, hoping the extra aid will help them earn a bachelor's degree without an overwhelming amount of debt. Uriel Rivera, for example, told NBC that he recently had to leave school because he could not afford it, but with help from the scholarship, he is will be able to return to his studies.

"I'm so grateful for this opportunity," Rivera told NBC. "You're not just paying for a student to go to college, you are helping a whole community."

In addition to the scholarship money, the Haas, Jr. Fund awarded the university an additional $300,000 to provide support services to undocumented students, particularly through the school's new Robert D. Haas Dreamers Resource Center.

"With essential scholarships and support services, UC Berkeley's undocumented students will be able to thrive academically, engage fully in the campus community, serve as inspiration for other undocumented students nationwide, and show our entire country what undocumented students are capable of achieving and contributing," said Katharine Gin, co-founder and executive director of Educators for Fair Consideration, an organization that helps undocumented students live out their college dreams.

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