DENVER - Yesenya Saucedo and Maria Carrillo have different stories. But, as illegal immigrants, they have the same problems. The seniors the Bruce Randolph School had wondered how their families could afford college.
"My family doesn't have really much money for me to be going to college," Carrillo said. "So, I didn't think there was going to be a way for me to be paying for such high tuition."
When the federal government expanded the deferred action program, it is allowing undocumented students who were brought to this country at a young age to obtain legal status and an employment authorization card.
When the Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow Bill or ASSET passed through the Colorado House and Senate, it lifted a financial barrier by allowing undocumented students to obtain in-state tuition. But, the final question had always been, can families of undocumented students still afford college?
"I feel like every undocumented student has a point where they are like, 'Do I keep going or do I just give up?'" Saucedo said.
The Denver Scholarship Foundation is working to change that. Not only did the non-profit change its policy to make undocumented students eligible for its scholarship program, Dr. Nate Easley, DSF's executive director, made a significant announcement Wednesday morning.
"An anonymous donor has given the Denver Scholarship Foundation $2 million specifically to help students with deferred action," Easley said.
Easley says the money will be used to develop a financial aid program within DSF because students under deferred action are still not eligible for federal financial aid.
"This was a complete surprise," Easley said. "If I made a donation like that, I'd want everyone to know. But, this person said, 'No, I'm not doing this to be popular. I'm doing this for the students.' So, it really touched me."
To qualify for the scholarship, students have to attend a Denver high school for four years with a grade point average of at least 2.0. Undocumented students would just have to confirm their deferred action status. If you want see the requirements, click here: http://www.denverscholarship.org/.
Denver Superintendent Tom Boasberg says this represents a shift in Colorado culture.
"That is changed. That is going to be different now and the lives of these young people will be different," Boasberg said. "I think this is an enormous step forward for our state. We've struggled with this for many years."
Carrillo says this gives her hope that she can achieve her goal of graduating from college.
"It just feels like things are going to get better," Carrillo said. "I don't think anyone has ever done something for us like that, you know."
Saucedo says it helps her believe that her family can truly achieve the American dream.
"The world is changing and there are new opportunities," Saucedo said. "The meaning behind me going to college is that my parents' sacrifice was worth it."
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