College Money Available for Immigrants

Naturalized citizens and permanent residents have options for college funds; here are some sources.

By SHARE

The United States of America has long been thought of as the "land of opportunity," and no opportunity is greater than that of a college education. College graduates will earn 66 percent more during their career than a high school grad—and more education correlates with higher rates of employment and annual earnings, higher home ownership rates, and lower rates of institutionalization and dependence on public programs.

[Read more about how higher education impacts lifetime salary.]

It's important for everyone to achieve the advantages of an education beyond high school, including new Americans (typically a naturalized citizen if born abroad, or a child of naturalized citizens if born in this country) and permanent residents (green card holders), who can pursue their American Dream through several scholarships available exclusively to them:

The Western Union Foundation's Family Scholarship Program is a new initiative for immigrants and their families. This program is intended to help two members of the same family move up the economic development ladder through education. Scholarships may be used for tuition for college/university education language acquisition classes, technical/skill training, and/or financial literacy. For example, one family member may request assistance to attend college and the other family member may request assistance to attend an English as a Second Language (ESL) course.

Recipients are eligible to receive scholarships in amounts of $1,000 to $5,000 per family. To be eligible, all applicants must be 18 years old or older, must have lived in the United States for seven years or less and must reside in one of the following cities at the time of application: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, New York, Washington, or Miami.

The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans was established in December 1997 with a charitable trust of $50 million. Each fellowship supports up to two years of graduate study in the United States and each award is worth up to $25,000 in maintenance grants and up to $20,000 in tuition support for each year of graduate study supported (for a total of as much as $90,000). To be eligible for these awards, one must be a new American; not yet 31 years old, as of the application deadline; a college senior or holder of a bachelor's degree; and, if already enrolled, not beyond the second year in the graduate degree program for which support is requested.

[Learn more about ways to pay for college.]

The New Immigrant Scholarship, in the amount of $1,500, is presented by the National Network of Presbyterian College Women to new immigrant women pursuing a college education. This award is available to women ages 18 to 25, living in the United States for five years or less, regardless of immigration status. This essay contest also requires full-time student status and a strong involvement with the Christian church.

The Catholic Community Foundation has formed the Dream Scholarship Fund to help immigrant students in the United States pay for their college education. This award is reserved for high school seniors who have a cumulative 2.0 GPA and those who live in the same state for which they are applying for college. Please note that applications are currently being taken for the fall semester, and the application deadline is May 1.

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Mackenzie Owens joined Scholarship America in the spring of 2011 and is an alumna of Columbia College. She was also the recipient of numerous scholarships.