Pitzer College offers official scholarship for 'undocumented' students

Elliot Dordick
The Claremont Independent

  • The scholarship bestows roughly $70,000 per year.
  • The largest merit-based scholarship by the school is a flat $5,000 per year.
  • In 2012, just months after American college student-loan debt ballooned to over one trillion dollars, Pitzer College began offering a scholarship specifically for illegal immigrants from Latin American countries.

    “We, every single year, offer one full-ride scholarship to an undocumented student who resides [illegally] in California… It’s called the Arnaldo Rodriguez scholarship, and all of the information can be found on our website,” Pitzer College admissions counselor JR Ramsey told theIndependent.

    "For people of full European descent, unfortunately [the scholarship] doesn’t apply."   

    The school’s website states, “Pitzer College established the Arnaldo Rodriguez Scholarship in honor of the college’s former Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid” because of an experience Rodriguez had “meeting a high school student who was at the top of her class and had lived in the US all her life but didn’t qualify for any financial aid due to her undocumented status.”

    The Pitzer College website states,“the need-based, four-year scholarship is awarded to top-performing students of Latin American descent who attended high school in California and are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States.”

    These students also must fit a certain ethnic profile.

    “For people of full European descent, unfortunately [the scholarship] doesn’t apply,” Ramsey said. It follows from this that African and Asian students, too, are unqualified for the award, but Ramsey did remark, “if you’re part-Latino, you’re fine,” and “if you’re in [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals]categorization, that still counts.”

    The scholarship covers the costs of full-time tuition, student activities fees, housing, school-provided medical insurance and a meal plan. In total, this sums up to around $70,000 per year—more than a quarter of a million dollars over the course of an undergraduate education. The largest and only merit-based scholarship given by Pitzer, the Trustee Merit Scholarship, offers $5,000 per academic year—a tiny fraction of the amount given to undocumented immigrants—and does not increase with hikes in tuition and student fees as the Rodriguez scholarship does.

    Undocumented applicants to Pitzer who do not receive this unique scholarship offer are treated the same as international applicants when considered for standard financial aid.

    “If your high school counselor is willing to put in a good word for you” in order to help an applicant receive this special scholarship, Ramsey stated, “they can shoot an email to Santiago Ybarra, the director of our office. It’s perfectly fine for them to reach out and talk about all the things you do in the community, the things you do in school, and why they think you’d be a great applicant not only for Pitzer, but also for what is embodied by that scholarship.”

    Ramsey noted that few Pitzer students are undocumented.“We only have the flexibility to offer one scholarship [per year] through that fund,” he said, “but I will go ahead and insert a little plug for Pitzer while I’m on the phone with you and say even outside of the admission process, I think [undocumented students] find a lot of support here at Pitzer. The culture of our campus here helps students of that categorization thrive academically.”

    This article was originally published in The Claremont Independent, a conservative student newspaper affiliated with the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished here with permission.





    Elliot Dordick

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent is an independent journal of campus affairs and political thought serving the colleges of the Claremont Consortium. The magazine receives no funding from any of the colleges and is distributed free of charge on campus. All costs of production are covered by the generous support of private foundations and individuals. The Claremont Independent is dedicated to using journalism and reasoned discourse to advance its ongoing mission of Upholding Truth and Excellence at the Claremont Colleges.

    The Claremont Independent is affiliated with Campus Reform through the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished on Campus Reform with permission from the paper. 

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