IDEA-U to offer scholarships to DACA students

IDEA Public Schools has received a grant that will enable its IDEA-U online university to educate, support and grant degrees to 1,000 DACA students during the next five years.

The grant totals $20 million and will allow IDEA-U and its partners at Southern New Hampshire University, the Shapiro Foundation and TheDream.US to open the doors of higher education to students brought to the U.S. illegally as children and temporarily protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Because of their protected status, these students are ineligible for Pell grants and other forms of government assistance. The initiative will provide full scholarships to DACA students to pursue associate and bachelor’s degree programs through SNHU’s competency-based College for America.

IDEA Public Schools started IDEA-U last summer as an affordable college option for IDEA graduates in the Rio Grande Valley whose lives, changing work schedules and family obligations have deterred them from finishing college.

IDEA-U partners with SNHU’s College for America, a fully accredited, nonprofit institution to deliver online, individualized curricula that lead to an associate or bachelor’s degree. The program is designed to help students master relevant skills they can immediately apply in the workplace.

“So you commit to enroll at SNHU, and they provide curriculum. We counsel, advise and support students at a real location, IDEA-U in Weslaco, which is outfitted for everything a student needs to be successful,” said Phillip Garza, chief college and diversity officer for IDEA Public Schools.

Tuition and fees are $5,500 per year, an attainable amount using Pell grants but a barrier in the case of DACA students, who cannot receive government assistance.