The largest single gift to date for scholarships in support of undocumented students at an American university will assist nearly two hundred students at UC Berkeley who currently qualify. Although these students come from families with average incomes of $24,000, they are ineligible to apply for federal Pell grants, federally backed loans, or work-study positions due to their immigration status. An additional gift of $300,000 by Elise Haas will support services for undocumented students, including those provided by the university's new Robert D. Haas Dreamers Resource Center, which is named in honor of the donor's father.
The scholarships are part of a university plan to address the challenges undocumented students face that includes support for high school students who enroll in a summer program designed to help them transition to campus life, an online resource for students and their families, legal services support, a textbook lending library, and mental health resources. When the state legislature passed the California Dream Act in 2011, UC Berkeley became one of the first public universities in the state to provide financial aid to undocumented students, who currently are eligible for privately funded scholarships and eventually will be eligible for Cal Grants and state-funded scholarships. The gift from the Haas, Jr. Fund will help fill the gap left by students' ineligibility for federal support.
"Against great odds, our 'Dreamers' have persevered to be here at Berkeley — adding so much to this campus," said UC Berkeley chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau. "We are grateful for the courage of these 'Dreamers' and also for the courage of those who stepped forward to support them. Our challenge is to continue ensuring that all our students at Berkeley, regardless of background, have access to their dreams, and that we do not waste the potential of a single talented person."