Prescott College, a liberal arts college in Arizona, announced last week that beginning next fall, it will implement a $30 fee for all on-campus students that will fund a scholarship for undocumented students, called the Freedom Education Fund.
Prescott College will launch the scholarship at the start of the 2016-2017 academic year, when the $30 fee will be added to the cost of tuition; one undocumented incoming freshman student will be selected to receive this full-ride scholarship each year as part of National Institution’s Coming Out Day, an annual event to support undocumented students started by United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the U.S. However, the college hopes to raise extra funds to support more full-tuition scholarships for additional undocumented students.
An estimated 274,000 undocumented immigrants live in Arizona. And currently, only 5 to 10 percent of undocumented high school graduates nationwide go on to get a higher education, and fewer complete their degree.
Efforts to bring about this scholarship were led by students — in collaboration with Social Justice and Human Rights Master of Arts students and community and faculty members — who initiated a petition, which the majority of students signed. With the scholarship, Prescott will become the first four-year college in Arizona, and the second in the country, to implement a fee of this kind.
Miriel Manning, founder of the Freedom Education Fund and a graduate student in the Social Justice and Human Rights program, said the scholarship was inspired “by courageous leadership and [the] organizing of undocumented leaders across the country.”
“Within the current political landscape of Arizona, it is critical that Prescott College shows [its] commitment to education as a human right,” she said.
Manning believes the fee is a small price to pay compared to the impact it can have for one student; however, some are opposed to providing financial assistance to people who are in the country illegally. To address opponents’ criticism, college officials have said that individual students may request to be exempt from the fee.
Prescott President John Flicker said in a statement that he is proud of students for initiating such change on campus and supports their efforts toward starting the scholarship fund.
“The passion around this issue really motivated our part to make up the difference between what the fee will provide for and the full cost to attend one of our programs,” he said. “We’re committed to broadening access to higher education for a diverse group of students and mobilizing our resources toward social justice.”
To be eligible for the Freedom Education Fund scholarship, students must be enrolled in a full- or part-time graduate or undergraduate program at Prescott, be ineligible to receive state or federal funding, be in good standing, and have no documentation, including visas or green cards.