University of Miami offers full scholarships to DACA students
The University of Miami is now providing scholarships covering 100 percent of the “demonstrated financial need” of DACA students who reside in Florida.
The “U Dreamers Program”—which promises to cover tuition and fees, room and board, a meal plan, and student health insurance—is “renewable for up to four academic years or such time [as is] required to complete the baccalaureate degree.”
"They are practically receiving preferential treatment for their immigration status."
UM estimates that the total cost of attendance for an undergraduate student living on campus is slightly more than $66,000, of which at least $62,000 would be covered by the U Dreamers Program.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an Obama-era policy that protects illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children from deportation, and also authorizes them to work in the United States.
Apart from DACA status, incoming freshmen must have attended an accredited Florida high school, while transfer students can qualify for the financial aid as long as they “attend a regionally accredited institution in the State of Florida” and “have completed or will soon complete 60 credit hours or more at the time of application.”
Students also must meet the university’s academic requirements, which for incoming freshman entail a minimum high school GPA of 3.2 and an SAT score of at least 1100 or ACT score of at least 21. Transfer students must maintain a 3.5 college GPA.
According to the College Board’s most recent statistics from the SAT National Percentiles study, a score of 1100 on the SAT is in the 55th percentile, while The Princeton Review identifies 21 as the national average on the ACT.
“As a student who had higher than a 3.2 in high school and who scored a 25 on the ACT, I wasn’t even accepted to UM outright. They offered me Spring admission that was conditional on doing a semester away program with a partner school of theirs,” UM student Andrea Cicilia told Campus Reform, noting that she wasn’t offered any scholarship money.
“It’s disappointing and unfair that UM would give full scholarships to DACA students, especially when they can qualify with a lower GPA and lower test scores than me,” she added. “Would I qualify for a full scholarship as a citizen with a 3.2 GPA and 21 on the ACT? Probably not.”
Another student who transferred to UM, Natalie Telfeja, said “I consider myself lucky to have the partial scholarship that I have,” despite coming to the school with a 3.7 GPA.
“It’s not fair that an undocumented student with a lower GPA could qualify for a full scholarship over someone like me,” she opined. “They are practically receiving preferential treatment for their immigration status.”
Despite requiring only average test scores, UM’s Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions Iris Florez said the university is enthusiastic to “impact the lives of high-achieving DACA students,” noting that while DACA students have been able to attend UM prior to the U Dreamers Program, they haven’t been able to receive financial aid of this magnitude.
“The students that I had the opportunity to work with through the U Dreamers program are exceptional in many ways and reflect the mission of the University.” Florez said. “Aside from stellar academics, each one has been a pillar within their classrooms and communities, despite the challenges they have faced.”
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