Loyola University students fight to fund scholarships for undocumented kids

Last year, a group of students at Loyola University Chicago voted to fund scholarships for five undocumented students. 

The effort was spearheaded by the Jesuit Catholic college’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and its student government. Members of each visited classrooms and set up tables around campus to speak with students about the difficulties undocumented students face in paying for college. 

It is estimated that there are 1.8 million undocumented young people residing in the United States who could greatly benefit from a college education. 

“The Latin American Student Organization came to the Student Union and asked if they could put the $2,500.00 they’d raised for undocumented students into some kind of university account as seed money for an official scholarship,” Flavio Bravo, a former president of the Loyola student government, told Fox News Latino.

The groups sat down with officers from the donor relations and financial aid departments of the school and were told that in order to be a “real” scholarship, they would need at least $25,000.

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After classroom presentations about undocumented students and their struggles to get an education and on-campus forums, the undergraduates petitioned the university to charge a fee of $2.50 to every student in order to fund the scholarship.

The fee will raise an estimated $50,000.

“We decided to call it the 'Magis Scholarship Fund,' which [in Latin] means 'more' and is a Jesuit tenet to give and do more for the community,” Bravo said.

“We didn’t want to name the scholarship after a famous Latino," he added. "We agreed on that. 'Undocumented' could include a lot of different kinds of people – especially here in Chicago.”

A giant boost came from Don Graham, the former publisher of the Washington Post and one of the founders of TheDream.US – a charitable organization devoted to helping so-called 'Dreamers' who immigrated to the U.S. without documentation as kids get a college education – who matched the student’s contributions by donating $50K last year. 

Graham had learned of the Magis fund through a story on Upworthy

The partial scholarship is slated to help five students cover tuition, on-campus room and board and mandatory student fees for a year. Recipients can apply to renew it for three additional years.

The scholarship will fund undocumented students who have been approved for deportation protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The students pay in-state tuition but cannot access federal financial aid.

Students enrolled at Loyola for the fall 2016 semester, either as freshman or transfer students, can apply for the scholarship. The application deadline for freshman is March 4 and for transfer students May 2.

The Loyola student body recently partnered with Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit that provides support to former gang-involved youngsters in Los Angeles, to create a line of apparel with the words “I support undocumented students.” Half the proceeds will go the Magis fund.

The $2.50 student fee was approved by the university board of trustees in December 2015.