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University of Arizona Announces New Scholarship Partnership to Support Undocumented Students

The University of Arizona has partnered with TheDream.US to improve access to higher education for Arizona’s undocumented youth.

Over the course of its ten years of operation, TheDream.US has awarded thousands of scholarships to non-citizen students enrolled in one of the program’s more than eighty partner institutions, whether or not they are eligible for temporary protected status or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. The UA will be one of these schools starting with the 2024–2025 academic year.

The national scholarship application period began on November 1 and ends on February 29, 2024.Up to $33,000 may be applied toward a bachelor’s degree at partner institutions in jurisdictions where undocumented students are permitted to attend for free, including Arizona starting in 2022.

“We believe that everyone, regardless of their status, should have equitable access to a college education and a meaningful career post graduation,” said Nicole Wesley, senior program manager of career supports at TheDream.US.

Wesley explained that partner schools must have existing infrastructure to support undocumented students and commit additional resources to accepted scholars.

“Once they get their scholarship from TheDream.US, we then fill in any remaining need that might be there to cover their resident tuition and mandatory fees,” Rafael Meza, senior director for enrollment management at the UA, said.

Applicants must apply to the scholarship online and to the partner university for admission as well. They will be notified by TheDream.US in April if they are selected.

“This partnership is reflective of the broader university commitment to help our Arizona residents be as prepared as possible to meet the cost of tuition at the University of Arizona,” Meza said.

According to Meza, the first cohort of UA recipients is expected to consist of 10 students. Support for these scholars will include designated contacts in various departments across campus.

“Part of why we’re a good match for them is we have had a history of supporting undocumented and DACAmented students through the last few years,” said Karla Cruze-Silva, the UA’s associate director for Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives.

Cruze-Silva explained that the scholarship furthers existing efforts on campus to provide assistance to undocumented students, such as the UA President’s Directed Scholarship and the Immigrant Student Resource Center.

“This is a way for us to actually live out the mission of a land-grant, of being an HSI, of trying to create a more inclusive and accessible space,” Cruze-Silva said.

Jessica Martinez, the coordinator of immigrant student support at the Thrive Center, will also serve as a scholarship advisor and will meet with the selected students and help them navigate university resources. The Thrive Center already offers mentorship, workshops, social events and more for students.

“It definitely opens doors to our undocumented students,” Martinez said about the scholarship. “It makes the dream possible.”

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