By Laura Bult and Denis Slattery (New York Daily News) – Dreams really do come true. The City University of New York and two kind-hearted donors gave a big boost Tuesday to struggling Dreamers hoping to get a college degree.
CUNY partnered with TheDream.US foundation last year to provide scholarships to undocumented immigrant students who have filed for temporary legal status.
TheDream.US founder and former Washington Post owner Donald Graham and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman announced Tuesday at the CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown they will each donate $15 million dollars to the program.
“I think it’s a very inspirational and an important cause,” said Ackman, 48. “I stand on the shoulders of the people who helped me. I had the great benefit of having my college paid for.”
More than 200 TheDream.US Foundation Student Scholarship winners— nearly half of all the winners in the nation — attend CUNY schools.
The funds — up to $25,000 for four years of study per student — go toward tuition, fees, books, supplies and transportation.
CUNY Chancellor James Milliken made the initiative a priority after learning last summer that CUNY students had received only about 30 scholarships.
Now, the number of awards has increased by over 700%.
Students said the scholarships helped offset some of the hardships of being a working college student in New York.
“For me, I feel like I don’t have to stress about working,” said Gibsy Lino, 22, a social work major at Lehman College in the Bronx who immigrated to the U.S. illegally when she was 13.
“I feel like I don’t have to work until midnight and stress about waking up for school. I don’t have that weight anymore.”
Others said the financial help would aid them in the future.
“I think it’s already changed my life since the moment I got accepted,” said Maria Flores, 19, who immigrated when she was 10 with her family from Mexico. “Now the money I was going to spend on it I can save for my future.”